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Cornell University Library 
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Memoir of Lieut.-Col. John T. Greble. of 

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Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 

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" I HAVE often heard," says Sallust, " that Quintus 
Maximus, Publius Scipio, and other renowned per- 
sons of the Eoman Commonwealth, used to say that 
whenever they beheld the images of their ancestors, 
they felt their minds vehemently excited to virtue. 
It could not be the wax nor the marble that possessed 
this power, but the recollection of their great actions 
that kindled a generous flame in their breasts which 
could not be quelled till they also, by Virtue, had 
acquired equal fame and glory." 

In our better era, and in our country of free thought 
and action, the Biographer may produce such images 
in more impressive, because historic forms, and so 
become a public benefactor. 

If the writer of this memoir wished to kindle in 
the breasts of his young countrymen a glowing de- 
sire for the accomplishment of great and good deeds ; 
a desire which " could not be quelled till they also 
by virtue had acquired equal fame and glory," he 
would choose for his subject the one on which his 
pen is now employed for the satisfaction of loving 


Mends, for the virtues of John T. Gkeble were 

From the duchy south of the great Thuringian 
forests, now known as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Andrew 
Grebel, a sturdy young German, who was born a 
subject of Duke John Ernest, emigrated to America 
in 1742, and became a foster-citizen of Philadel- 
phia. There he married Eachel Schope, a native of 
picturesque Swabia, through which the Danube flows, 
and ranges of the Alps and the Black Forest hills 
traverse. She settled in Philadelphia, with her 
parents, seven years before he who was to be her hus- 
band came over the sea. These were the ancestoi's 
of the family in Philadelphia, who write their name 

The first immigrant and his sons and sons-in-law 
were active in the military service during our old 
war for independence. The father and his son Jacob 
were with "Washington in the battle of Trenton, and 
suffered the many hardships to which the little army 
of patriots was exposed at that gloomy period of the 
strife. They were also in the battle of Monmouith. 
His son John was in the army at the same time, and 
fought in several battles. Caspar, another son, was 
a member of Mercer's "Flying Camp," a sort of 
guerrilla organization, and after the death of the 
leader, he entered the continental naval service. 
George, a little son, only twelve years of age, was a 
drummer-boy in the militia, and afterward made 
several sea voyages in a privateer vessel. Henry 
Dentzel, who married Andrew's daughter Mary, and 

Adam Witherstein, the husband of her sister Sophia, 
were also in the army, and were in several engage- 

William Greble, another of Andrew's sons, mar- 
ried Catharine Yhost, of Philadelphia, whose parents 
were natives of Swabia. Their fourth son, Edwin, 
married Susan Yirginia, daughter of Robert Major, 
of Chester County, Pennsylvania, whose father, Wil- 
liam Major, was an active soldier in the Continental 
Army. Robert Major's wife was a daughter of Isaac 
Jones, a birth-right member of the Society of Fi'iends 
or Quakers. His ancestor, a native of Wales, came 
to America with William Penn, and was one of the 
earliest settlers near Chester, on the Delaware, where 
the founder of Pennsylvania first landed. In the 
year 1689, he took up his abode in the newly-founded 
city of Philadelphia. Isaac, in violation of the dis- 
cipline of the Society of Friends, which insists upon 
absolute non-resistance, entered the Continental 
army as a soldier. For this offence he was disowned 
as a member of the Society, but he continued to 
worship with them until his death. 

Edwin Greble and Susan Yirginia Major, wedded 
in 1831, were the parents of John T. Greble. He 
Avas their first son, and was born in the city of Phila- 
delphia, on the nineteenth day of January, 1834. 
He was an inheritor of excellent moral and intel- 
lectual qualities that formed the solid foundations of 
that wealth of good character which he possessed in 
mature years. This is an incident not to be slightly 
estimated in making up the sum of a man's life, for 


all experience teaches that in human character as in 
the physical Avorld, like begets like, and aberrations 
are generally the consequences of modifying circum- 

The childhood of young Greble was passed among 
the influences of most salutary surroundings. His 
home was the abode of domestic harmony, of liberal 
culture, of personal refinement of thought and man- 
ners, and other Christian graces which make the 
household the nursery of great and good men and 

His own gentleness of spirit, his love of truth, his 
nobility of impulse, his carefulness of the feelings of 
others, and his eagerness for knowledge, responded 
lovingly to these home influences, as does the chord 
to the touch of the musician, and co-operated with 
wise parental discipline in making him a model of a 
boy of satisfactory promise, which his manhood fully 

Faithfulness was a quality of his character early 
developed. He could never be tempted from a post 
of duty. A single example is a sufiicient illustra- 
tion here : when he was a small school-boy he was 
called one morning by his mother to leave an absorb- 
ing contest of little wooden soldiers which he was 
superintending, to guard from harm a young sister 
left to play with a hoop on the side-walk. He 
quickly and cheerfully said, " Yes, ma," and seated 
himself on the front door step, in dutiful obedience. 
The most seductive attempts of other little boys to 
draw him away to plaj^ in the public square near by. 


were in vain. He had a charge. He felt the respon- 
sibility. He refused to leave, and nobly performed 
his prescribed duty. When one of the tempters said 
" Oh, nothing will happen to her ;" he promptly re- 
plied, "Of course not while Jam here." With the 
same inborn spirit he uttered his later words at his 
gun on the field of battle where he fell. 

In childhood young Grreble's physical frame was 
slight and delicate, and while not discarding the 
more boisterous out-door plays of other boys, he pre- 
ferred the fountain of knowledge and the gentle 
amusements within the family circle. He was so 
winning in his ways that it was always a joy for his 
mother, and the other children to have "Jack" (as 
they familiarly called him) with them, and so his in- 
clinations were gratified. He had his own peculiar 
tastes in these, but he never allowed them to inter- 
fere with the happiness of others ; and he was ever 
ready to leave his favorite amusement with mimic 
soldiers and the perusal of stories of military achieve- 
ments, in response to the other children when they 
called, " Tell us this," or, " Show us that," or, " Come 
join us in our play." Often, when he had gratified 
them and put them earnestly in motion in some play, 
he would steal ofi" to indulge in his favorite amuse- 

An excellent feminine teacher had charge of the 
boy's earliest education outside of the family ; and 
so soon as he was old enough to profit by instruction 
in the Sabbath school, he filled a place therein. In 
such a way, at home and abroad, his earlier intellee- 



tual, moral, and religious training was begun. And 
these influences and wise discipline went hand in 
hand in the cultui-e of the youth all the way up to 
manhood, when the religious principle — the best ele- 
ment in character for the secxirity of a well-ordered 
and useful life, pervaded his whole being. He be- 
lieved with Young, that 

"A Christian is tlie highest style of man ;" 

not the Christian by profession only, but by hourly 
action. And the tenor of his life was in consonance 
with that belief. His teacher, J. C. Farr, wrote to 
a friend in allusion to the child's early promise, " It 
was my privilege in the confidence reposed in me 
by his respected parents, to have John placed under 
my instructions in the Sabbath school while in his 
early childhood, and among all the large numbers 
Avith whom I have been associated in a course of 
many years, there was no youth with whom I parted 
at the end of our school connection, who left me with 
so hopeful an impression, that, as he had been always 
kind, amiable, respectful, intelligent, manly, yet 
modest, with a high appreciation of moral and reli- 
gious truth, nothing else would be realized in his 
manhood than the results which these coveted traits 
of character ordinarily produce. "We considered him 
in Sabbath school an exemplary scholar, and in his 
riper years were not disappointed." 

An incident occurred during his connection with 
the Sabbath school, which revealed a peculiar i^hase 
in young Greblc's character. He was usually very 


generous, and freely spent his pocket money more 
for the gratification of others than for himself. At 
one time it was observed that his generous acts had 
almost ceased, and that he was hoarding instead of 
spending his money. The other children noticed it, 
and said : " Why, Jack is getting stingy." He was 
unmoved. He kept his own counsel. He was a 
manager of the Sabbath School Bible Society, for 
which cause he zealously made collections. What 
he asked of others he would not himself deny. "Very 
soon the secret of his sudden economy in expendi- 
ture was revealed, for he gave to the society's funds, 
at the anniversary meeting, so large a sum from his 
own savings, that it was voted, by unanimous con- 
sent, that the father of the generous worker should 
be made a life member. Could a father's heart have 
coveted a more touching testimonial of the nobility 
of a son's nature ? 

At the age of eight years, the child entered the 
Ringgold Grammar School, of Philadelphia, as a 
pupil, where he remained four years. His obedience, 
industry, marked ability, and gentleness made him 
a universal favorite ; and his assiduity was rewarded 
at the end of the term with full success in passing a 
most rigid examination as a candidate for a higher 
seminary of learning. His attainments were such 
that he was at once admitted to the Central High 
School of Philadelphia, where he remained another 
term of four years, winning the love and esteem of 
all, both tutors and students; and when he graduated 
in June, 1850, at the age of sixteen years, he received 


the degree of Bacheloi- of Arts. In 1854 he received 
the degree of Master of Arts. 

During his whole term in the Central High School 
he was never known to have an imperfect lesson, to 
violate a single prescribed rule, or to neglect studies 
which were not in accordance with his taste. Alle- 
giance to duty and submission to authority were 
the practical maxims of conduct that governed him 
in the days of his discipline ; and a sense of the value 
of time as a limited opportunity for improvement, 
seemed ever present with him. 

During his pupilage in the Central High School, 
young Greble's stated and occasional compositions 
were noted for clearness and vigor of thought, and 
high-toned notions of life's duties and privileges. 
They appear quite remarkable when considered as 
the productions of a lad a little more than fifteen 
years of age. His choice of subjects, the trains of 
thought developed, and the eleai'ness and directness 
of his statements, without any of the usual ornate 
rhetoric found in juvenile compositions, marked them 
all as the fruit of a sound and well-balanced mind, 
perfected by thorough discipline. In proof I intro- 
duce some extracts from two of them, satisfied that 
they will gratify the loving friends for whom this 
memoir is written, and would not displease even a 
critical and unsympathizing public. 


"passion and judgment. 

"How can you best influence the opinions of men? 
by an address to their passions or their judgments ? 

"All men have passions, but very few have judg- 
ment ; or, at least, if all do have it, in some it is as 
but the faintest glimmering of the nearly expiring 
lamp. How, then, can we appeal to that which all 
men have not, much less seek to guide their conduct 
by a phantasm ? Can we find that which was never 
lost ? Can we create that which never existed ? 

" The passions are natural : judgment is acquired ; 
and what is natural is always stronger than studied 
attainments. Judgment tends to subdue the pas- 
sions ; but they still, at times, struggle in the breast, 
as the proud war horse rears under the guidance of 
the rein. 

" He who has judgment is a great man. He has 
learned that first important thing, to govern himself; 
and he who can govern himself can govern others. 

" An appeal to the judgment, although a confined 
one, is the noblest. It is backed by sense, and is 
acted upon in the coolness of thought and the wis- 
dom of experience. The appeal to the passions is a 
general one, and their action is quicker and less last- 

"What is more ennobling than the passion of love ? 
And who has not felt it ? It is the parent of good 
feelings, and the offspring of a higher world than this. 
To what cannot man or woman be moved by it ? 
Love to God spreads a heavenly light over the whole 


heart. Love to man makes happiness enlighten the 
face, and pleasure dance in the eyes. It is a calm 
and saint-like passion, and its proximity to judgment 
is near. 

" The appeal to the malevolent passions is as strong 
and its effects more turbulent. It is that which has 
filled our prisons, and which has populated otherwise 
beautiful districts with a mass of improvident and 
unruly men, kindling terrible furies, destroying pro- 
perty, and contemplating and even effecting the 
sacrifice of life." 

On the subject of " Oi^den Times," after mention- 
ing the fact that many desire a return of " the good 
old days," he wrote : — 

" They who make those wishes look only on one 
side of the picture. Their minds ai'c led away to the 
high-colored and brilliant accounts of chivalry, high 
birth and beauty portrayed on the novel's enchanting 
page. They seem to hear the trumpet's martial blast 
ushering the mail-clad knights into the lists, sending 
one of them to die, or to be overthrown, or wounded 
in the field. They then see the victorious one greeted 
by the sounds of music and applause, and crowned 
with laurels by the hand of beauty. It is because of 
these things that the wish escapes their lips. They 
think they would emulate Richard Coeur de Leon, 
or Tancred; and that the proudest ladies would 
smile upon them. 

" But look at the oppression which reigned in those 
days. See the common people bowing the knee — 


servile on account of their situation — and depending 
on the good humor of their lord, alone, for their lives. 
Would you have such a state of affairs as this re- 

" In war alone did their high-born nobles excel. 
The school-boy now, of fifteen years of age, is better 
learned in geography, the proper rules which govern 
language, and in general knowledge, than four-fifths 
of those knights whom he would resemble. What is 
power without knowledge, but the oppression of 
ignorance ?" 

As young Greble approached the age when a voca- 
tion for life is usually chosen. What shall it be ? was 
a serious question pressed upon the attention of his 
parents. His father had desired to train him in his 
own business, that he might become, in manhood, a 
partner in its labors and emoluments ; but he could 
plainly discover, during all the years of the boy's 
pupilage in the High School, that his tastes and in- 
clinations were decidedly for the military profession. 
His favorite amusement, as a little child, was with 
the movements of toy soldiers under his own hands ; 
and his favorite reading as he grew into a thoughtful 
youth, was that which related to military achieve- 
ments. It was evident that the delicate boy, in whom 
no belligerence was ever manifested — who was never 
known to qiiarrel with a school -fellow, or unduly 
manifest self-assertion in any way — always pacific, 
and yielding his own will and pleasure for the joy of 
others, when it did not imply the submission of a 


principle; the delicate boy, of whom a stranger, mark- 
ing his gentleness of character, would have predicted 
a taste for the non-comhative pursuits of science, 
literature, or the fine arts, was already, by some 
peculiar inclination of his genius, a soldier in aspira- 
tion. And so strongly was that inclination developed 
with his years, that the father yielded his own pre- 
ferences and took measures to have his son instructed 
in all that pertained to a preparation for the military 

When the Honorable Lewis C. Levin, the repre- 
sentative in Congress of Mr. Greble's district, heard 
of the strong desire of the latter's son to lead a mili- 
tary life, he at once, and without solicitation or even 
a hint from the lad's family, generously tendered him 
a cadetship then in his gift, in the United States 
Military Academy at West Point, on the Hudson. 
Mr. Levin was well acquainted with young Greble's 
character as a youth of more than ordinary promise, 
and believed that his career would justify his wisdom 
in making the selection. The nomination was made 
in the winter of 1850, and on the 5th of March, that 
year, the Secretary of War, George W. CraAvford, of 
Georgia, wrote to the candidate an official letter in 
which he informed him that he had been " appointed 
a cadet in the service of the United States" by the 
President, Zachary Taylor. On the 30th of June 
following — the very day but one after his gradua- 
tion at the Central High School in Philadelphia, 
he entered the Academy at West Point, bearing 
with him to the Professors of that institution 


the following voluntary testimonial concerning his 
worth : — 

" Central High School, 

Philadelphia, June 11, 1850. 

"To the Professors of the Military Academy at West Point: — 

"Gentlemen: Mr. John T. Greble having been 
appointed a cadet in your institution, I beg leave 
to commend him to your kind consideration. As 
he has been for four years under my care, I may 
claim to know him well ; and I recommend him as a 
young man of good abilities and amiable disposition; 
punctual in the discharge of duty, and seldom off his 
post. In these whole four years he has lost, I believe, 
biit two days — one from sickness and one to attend 
the funeral of a classmate. He leaves the High 
School with the unqualified confidence and respect of 
every professor in it. 

Your obedient servant, 

JOHN S. HART, Principal 

Young Greble's examination at West Point fol- 
lowed in due time. It was entirely satisfactory, and 
in February, 1851, he received a certificate from the 
"War Department, dated the 24th of that month, de- 
claring his ability and regular entry as a cadet, the 
appointment to " take effect on the 30th day of June, 
1850." In the neat gray uniform of the institution, 
he was now a faithful, zealous, and in every way ex- 
emplary student of such knowledge as the profession 
he had chosen required. The history of that gray 
uniform of the West Point Cadets is interesting. It 



was given to the writer in 1862, by the late Major- 
General Winfield Scott, while conversing with him 
in the library at "West Point. While stationed at 
Buffalo, in the summer of 1814, General Scott wrote 
to the Quarter-Master for a supply of new clothing 
for the regulars. Word soon came back that blue 
cloth, such as was used in the army, could not be ob- 
tained, owing to the stringency of the blockade, and 
the embargo, and the lack of manufactures in the 
country, but that there Avas a sufficient quantity of 
gray cloth (now known as " Cadet's Gray") in Phila- 
delphia. Scott ordered it to be made up for his 
soldiers, and in these new gray suits they marched 
down the JSTiagara River, on the Canada side, in the 
direction of Chippewa. It was just before the battle 
known by that name, which occurred early in July. 
General Eiall, the British commander, looked upon 
them with contempt when preparing for battle on the 
morning of the 5th, for the Marquis of Tweeddale, 
who, with the British advance, had skirmished with 
them all the day before, had reported that they were 
only "Buffalo Militia," and accounted for the fact 
that they fought well and drove him to his intrench- 
ments north of the Chippewa River, because it was 
the anniversary of American Independence that 
stimulated them. Because of the victory won at 
Chippewa on that day, chiefly by these soldiers in 
gray, and in honor of Scott and his troops, that style 
of cloth was adopted at the military academy at 
West Point as the uniform of the cadets. It has 
been used ever since, and is known to be the best 


color for field service, as the wearer is not conspicu- 
ous. The writer has observed the cadets at a little 
distance in the gray of the evening twilight to be 
almost invisible excepting the dark stripe down the 

"Wlien young Greble entered the military academy 
he was loved and respected as few young men are 
loved and respected. He possessed the solid esteem 
of all who were ever brought within the influence of 
his goodness, and in a special manner his school- 
fellows. It was not an evanescent liking for " a 
clever fellow," which too often illustrates the truth 
of the saying " Out of sight out of mind," but it was 
a real affection inspired by his intrinsic woi'th — an 
admiration for his noble qualities of mind and heart. 
One of his school-fellows, who has since held honor- 
able positions in public life, in a paper entitled, " The 
Chaeaotee op JoHisr T. Greble," written when the 
subject and the author were mere boys, summed up 
his estimate of that character in the following words, 
of which the closing ones, considered in the light of 
subsequent events, were prophetic : — 

" He has very strong good sense ; sees very Avell 
into the actions of others, and will never do a dis- 
graceful action. His love of right is too strong to 
permit it. He cherishes his ideas, and we will hear 
the same things repeated by him after a considerable 
length of time. 

" He is generous to a fault, as the writer of this 
has had many opportunities for proving. He is ener- 
getic, and an excellent confidant — never betraying a 


secret, and always taking a great interest in the 
affairs of his friends. 

" His fault is not vanity ; I have never, in all my 
intercourse with him, seen him display any. He 
does not discourse of his own merits. He never as- 
sumes any superiority. He will look up even to 
those who are inferior to him, but will not bear to be 
looked down upon. 

" He is brave, and dares to do all that may become 
a man. He is inclined to religion, but whether 
through the influence of natural disposition or early 
education, I cannot tell. He cannot bear trifling 
upon subjects that he deems worthy of his veneration. 
He is dainty in his senses, and abhors anything dis- 
gusting or indecent ; his soul recoils from it. 

" In short, he is the embryo of a bold, honorable, 
true man ; one that will be a glory to his name, and 
an honor to his country ; and one that will always 
be my friend. 


More remarkable than this was the following poetic 
address of young Donnelly to his " dear friend, John 
T. Greble" during the first year of the latter's cadet- 
ship at West Point, and dated January 15th, 1851 : — 

" Look forward to the future, for thy heritage is there, 
Where our country's widened banner floats alone upon the air ; 
Or through the rush of battle its smoke-enveloped form 
Gleams like a white sail plunging 'mid the tossing of the storm. 

"Look forward to the future, for our nation's dawn is nigh, 
And her struggling light is glancing where the golden deserts lie. 


Tlie sun that peeped above the sea on Plymouth's wintry shore, 
Now flashes where the billows of the wide Pacific roar ; 
And up along the icy north, his slanted beams lie white 
O'er pallid lake, and windy plain, and frozen forest height ; 
And down amid the dim green woods of shadowy Brazil, 
His golden light shall dazzle where all is dark and still. 

"Look forward to the future, when worth shall find its own. 
And when the mightiest mind shall wield the monarch-might alone, 
When nobler deeds and greater thoughts shall mark our nation-home. 
Than ever blessed the Spartan's hills or shook the halls of Rome. 
Then thou shalt shine, my early friend ; thy dimly -rising star 
Shall kiss the sunken waves of peace or light the waste of war ; 
And one shall stand aside and watch its steady, changeless ray, 
Until its light fades faintly out in fame's eternal day." 

In the Military Academy our Cadet found ample 
scope and means for the gratification of his tastes 
and laudably ambitious desires. His studies, his 
associates and associations, and the daily routine of 
student-life there, were all calculated to produce the 
most perfect development of his whole being. And 
in him that development was most harmonious and 
beautiful. ]S[o study was irksome to him. He en- 
joyed severe mental and moral discipline ; and he 
yielded as lovingly to the restraints of academic 
laws as he had ever done to the training of parental 
authority. He always recognized the fact that he 
was a student, sitting at the feet of Experience, and 
that his highest interest was involved in being a con- 
fiding and attentive listener. He was always obedi- 
ent to the requirements of the most minute details of 
the service, and was ever loyal to the authority of 
duty. This was a characteristic phase of his whole 
cadet-life, as it had been when a little child at home, 


and a boy in school. And when he was placed in 
position of command, with which military students 
are sometimes invested, he was always most conside- 
rate in his requirements of service from others, and 
lenient and merciful when compelled to administer 
discipline on account of offences. On one occasion, 
when he was Corporal of the Guard, the cadets had 
what they called a " Stag Dance" — a dance without 
any ladies. In the exuberance of their spirits they 
became very boisterous, in violation of the rules of 
the Academy. The commandant ordered the noise 
to be stopped, and the leaders put under arrest in the 
guard-house. Mr. Greble immediately ordered oiit 
the guard to arrest them, but privately sent them a 
warning to desist. The revellers heeded it, quietly 
and quickly dispersed, and there were no arrests that 

"While engaged in his studies — studies which had 
fully occupied the greatest intellects of whose achiev- 
ments history has made record — his heart was con- 
stantly overflowing Avith gratitude and affection 
toward his parents. His spiritual nature was all the 
while in full play, and his soul was in continual 
correspondence with his home through that mysteri- 
ous telegraph which 

"Lives through all life, extends through all extent, 
Spreads undivided, operates unspent ;" 

and which human wisdom cannot comprehend. 

Gratefully he wrote to his mother on one occasion — 

" And now my thoughts carry me to my happy 


home in Philadelphia ; to the kind influences which 
surrounded me there; to the loving hearts which so 
dearly cherished me. How kind both father and 
mother in fostering and providing for my ambition ; 
inciting me to study ; supplying every want ; and if 
ever I thought — or rather, for every unkind thought, 
if I ever entertained such, and for every wrong word 
that I have spoken, I am deeply penitential and most 
humbly beg pardon. For whatever is polite or re- 
fined in my composition, I am indebted to you and 
my much-loved sisters ; whatever is affectionate is 
but what has been taught me by the love of all at 
home, and of my uncles and aunts." 

His letters of affection Avere like brimful streams 
in the spring of the year, whose channels are scarcely 
sufficient to allow the free flow of the gushing tide. 

Mr. Greble's cadet-life of four years passed gently 
and nobly ; and he was graduated with marked credit 
in June, 1854.* Many of his class-mates and fellow 

* At the time of his graduation the new fledged soldier received from 

Ferdinand J. Dreer, Esq., one of the most intimate of his father's friends, 

a present of a pair of elegant epaulettes. He acknowledged the gift in the 

following manner : — 

"Philadelphia, June 20th, 1854. 
" Dbab Mr. Dbeee : 

"I received yesterday with much pleasure the handsome pair of epau- 
lettes which you sent me. You could not have thought of a gift which 
would have pleased me more or which I was desiring more. That they will 
highly ornament me during the pleasant and showy parts of my duties I do 
not doubt, and I hope that if I am ever called upon to act the sterner parts 
of a soldier's life, I may do nothing to disgrace them or cause their donor 
to regret his gift. 

" Please present my best love to Mrs. Dreer. 



graduates became distinguished officers in the late 
civil Avar; and those who, like him, remained loyal 
to the old flag, like him attested their devotion to 
the principles symbolized in the device and expressed 
in the legend engraved upon the class-ring,* which 
they had adopted when about to leave the academy 
and separate, namely, a mailed hand holding a sword 
and the words, " When our country calls." So the 
legend abruptly ended; and it was a common plea'- 
santry used among their friends, that the words might 
imply with equal force that when their country called 
they would either sustain it or desert it. Members 
of the class, in the time of hot trial a few years later, 
made the pleasantry a solemn reality, for some stood 
by their country while others deserted its standard.f 
At his graduation, Mr. Greble received the com- 
mission of brevet second lieutenant, and entered the 

* It is a custom at the military academy at West Point for each class, 
just before separating at the close of their studies, to adopt a device and 
legend or motto, -which each has engraved on stone and mounted in a gold 
ring like a seal. By this class-ring they might always recognize each other. 
No class copied the device of another — each had an original device and 

\ There were foity-six graduates of his class of one hundred, of whom 
twenty-three remained true to the Union and /oMri^ere joined the insurgents 
when the war broke out. At that time it was known that seven of the 
graduates were dead. Ten of the fourteen disloyal ones became generals 
in the "Confederate" army, namely, G. W. C. Lee, James Deshler, John 
P. Pegram, J. E. B. Stuart, Archibald Gracie, S. D. Lee, W. D. Pender, 
J. B. Villepique, J. T. Mercer, and A. B. Chapman. Only four of the 
loyal graduates were raised to the rank of general, namely, Henry L. Ab- 
bot, Thomas E. Kuger, 0. O. Howard, and S. H. Weed. At the close of 
the year when the civil war ended, it was known that of the forty-six 
graduates twelve had been killed in battle, and eight had died. 


army as such as a member of the second regiment of 
artillery. He was at first sent to the barracks at 
I^ewport, Kentucky, on the banks of the Ohio River, 
opposite Cincinnati. There he soon received the 
very welcome order to join his regiment then sta- 
tioned at Tampa, in Florida. At that time the rem- 
nant of the Seminole Indians, whose principal chief 
was called, in English, Billy Bowlegs, and with whom 
the General Government had waged a war for seven 
years, ending in 1849, were not yet removed to their 
destined country, west of the Mississippi River. It 
seemed necessary to have an armed force there to 
watch the Indians, and to keep the smothered fires of 
revenge and just resentment from breaking out into 
a flame of war. 

After a brief visit at his home in Philadelphia, 
Lieutenant Greble sailed from that city late in 'No- 
vember, for the purpose of joining his regiment in 
Fort Brooke, at Tampa, then the chief military post in 
"West Florida. In his little private diary, kept with 
almost chronological brevity, rather as a series of 
hints to the memory than a record of events, he wrote 
under date of " Saturday, ISTovember 25th, 1854 :" — 

""Woke up and found ship at anchor in the Savan- 
nah River, waiting for tide to go up to the city. 
Sailed up the river and got a^ground ; Florida passen- 
gers taken oS by the "Welaka. Bid ladies good-bye. 
Steamed it along the Florida coast. Stopped at two 
or three towns with the mail." 

On Sunday, the 26th, he wrote : — 

"Woke up and found the boat at St. Mary's. 



Dressed, and stepped ashore to say that I've been in 
Geoi'gia. "Went out to sea to St. John's bar; plenty 
of pelicans, pretty towns, live oak, palmetto, and 
cypress trees seeming to grow out of the water. Got 
into Pilatka early in the evening." 

Lieutenant Greble's experience on the wa}^ from 
Pilatka to Tampa, and on his arrival there, is given 
in the following letter to his uncle, which presents a 
graphic and most interesting picture of the interior 
of Florida at that time : — 

" Tampa, December 1st, 1854. 

" Deak Uncle : — 

" I owe you a letter, were it only in consideration 
of the quantity of writing materials with which you 
have provided me. You have been very kind to me. 
You have bestowed upon me your gifts, and your 
love — the richest gift — with a lavish hand. 

"I have added considerably to my experience 
since I last saw you, as you will see by my letter to 

" The first day of December in this climate is quite 
pleasant. Yesterday, in the middle of the day, it was 
very warm. The mornings and evenings are cold. 
They build a fire in the morning, and, after a little 
while, throw open the doors and let it die away. 

" I must tell you about my stage-ride. "We left 
Pilatka about nine o'clock on Monday morning. 
Four in the stage (five, counting the driver) ; two 
gentlemen who owned land near the town of Ocala, 
Major Hayes and myself. 


"The ground over which we passed, and, I think, 
all of Southern Florida, is not soil, but sand, except 
where we passed through a puddle of water. The 
stage was a four-horse coach, and a very 'slow 
coach.' l^o wonder, for the baggage was heavy and 
the road not over good. We rode about twenty-five 
miles through a pine-wood ; and, about four o'clock 
in the afternoon came to Orange Springs, where there 
is the largest and best house I have seen in Florida. 
After a delay of about an hour, we drove ahead six- 
teen miles, and came to a place owned by a man 
named Templeton. He is a post-master. The room 
into which we first went had nothing in it but a fire 
of pine wood — 'light wood' they call it. He used 
it as the post-ofiice. 

" I was very much amused at a conversation be- 
tween him and one of our passengers. This Temple- 
ton did not seem to have much of an opinion of 
Florida. He said there was nothing to eat but veni- 
son, and he would as soon eat a turkey-buzzard ; that 
he could not raise more than a peck of corn to the 
acre ; and that if any one would give him what the 
place had cost him, he would sell it soon enough. 
The other man had land to sell, and praised Florida 
up to the skies. The supper we got certainly did not 
belie the post-master's statement. Though we had 
venison and sweet potatoes, they were not cooked 

"After supper we rode about fourteen miles fai'ther, 
and came to a small town called Ocala, where we 
changed stages, and Major Hayes and myself got 


into a two-horse hack. Aboiit nine o'clock the next 
morning we came to a house called ' The "Widow's,' 
and owned by a Mrs. Bates. "We rode on thirty- 
miles farther without stopping for dinner, and at 
twelve o'clock at night got to Mr. Hooper's. Here 
we staid all night, and started next morning at nine ; 
and, after stopping at a Mrs. Gage's for dinner, we 
arrived in Tampa at nine o'clock Wednesday evening. 
■ " Most all the road passes through a pine wood. 
Occasionally it passes through a hemlock wood, which 
is thick and sometimes almost impassable, where 
there are live-oaks, scrub-oaks, palmettos, and bay- 
trees. The foliage was all green; and in some of 
these hommocks I noticed trees with beautifully 
polished leaves of a bright green color — trees and 
bushes. They have, also, what are called prairies — 
not like the large prairies of the west, but perhaps a 
quarter of a mile square, and covered with a long, 
yellow grass. They are usually around a pond of 
water, and in the wet season most of them are under 

" The live-oak is not a very large tree — or those I 
have seen are not — and it has a small green leaf. 
The bay-tree bears a long green leaf. There are two 
kinds : one with a leaf very like the oleander, and one 
with a broad, long leaf. There are three kinds of 
palmettos : the cabbage, the blue, and the saw pal- 
metto. The cabbage palmetto grows into a tree. 
The trunk is pretty thick, and grows about sixteen 
to twenty feet high, and has a bunch of leaves at the 
top. The saw palmetto bears a leaf which looks very 


like and is about the size of a palm-leaf fan, only the 
leaves are not connected all the way up. When I 
say ' leaves,' do not suppose that I mean it is a tree ; 
it is merely a stem with this fan-like leaf, or rather 
bunch of leaves connected part of the way. The 
blue palmetto is the saw j)almetto on a large scale. 
Its stem is large enough for a walking-cane, and the 
leaf is in proportion. It grows in the hommocks and 
rich grounds, 

" The people who have made settlements along the 
stage-route are generally from South Carolina and 
Georgia. They are termed ' Crackers ;' I think that 
is the way to spell it. All out of the rank of gentle- 
men are called ' Crackers.' They are a poor, thrift- 
less set, living in log-houses which are pretty well 
ventilated. Each one owns, pei'haps, two or three 
negroes, and two or three hundred acres of pine land 
which they (or most of them) do not take the troxible 
to clear, but merely fence in. They raise cotton, 
sweet potatoes, and turpentine. I saw several cotton 
fields in which the negroes were picking, though 
most of the cotton crops had been gathered. I also 
saw several small patches of sugar cane, looking very 
much like fields of tall corn. 

" The houses were mostly log-huts, built by laying 
ends of logs on ends of logs perpendicular to them. 
Sometimes they fill in the cavities by nailing strips 
of thin boards between every two courses of logs ; 
most of them, however, do not take that trouble. 

"Within these houses they keep themselves warm 
by building large ' light-wood' fires. In one place 


where we stopped I counted six logs in the fire-place, 
all blazing away, each, log about six feet long and 
seven or eight inches in diameter. At another place 
I noticed a nice new, tight and comfortable building, 
and, thinks I, these people must be more comfortable 
than those I have seen ; but the woman, who was 
talking to the stage-driver, suddenly turned round 
to a little girl by her side, and exclaimed : — 

" ' That nasty little dog has got into the smoke- 
house — run and put him out !' It was the smoke- 
house that was so tight ; the dwelling was all open. 

"Each settlement has usually several log-houses 
— one for the ' mansion,' one for the kitchen, and one 
or more for the negroes. 

" Every time we stopped to take a meal we had 
venison. Quite a good number of deer crossed the 
road during our journey. I saw a good many wild- 
turkeys, and got out of the stage to try and shoot one 
with my pistol, but they were too quick for me. 
There was any quantity of partridges, and ducks 
were on every little pond. Passing Lake Ahapopka 
— a lake partly prairie and partly water — whose bor- 
ders we followed for about eight miles, I saw a great 
number of long-legged white cranes wading through 
the water. 

""We passed on the road a planter moving his hands 
and stock. There were two or three wagons carrying 
their goods, and one filled with a dozen or more negro 
children. Twenty or thirty negro women and men 
were walking, and then there was a drove of hogs, a 


negro man in front dropping a grain of corn every 
few steps, and the hogs following. 

" Tampa is a pretty place, built like any other vil- 
lage, with the houses far apart, and on roads rather 
than streets. The roads run every way, and I have 
two or three times had difficulty in finding my board- 
ing house. 

" The first night we came here. Major Hayes and I 
Avent down to the garrison, and, on our return, missed 
our way. We went into a place that had a light in 
it, and there saw a long table with a miscellaneous 
crowd — soldiers, negi'oes, &c. — seated around it play- 
ing Tceno, I think they called it, A man at the head 
of the table turned round a calabash filled with num- 
bered blocks, and at each revolution drawing out one 
of these blocks and calling out the number. The 
players were furnished with cards bearing different 
combinations of numbers, and as any block was called 
that was on their card, they would mark it with a 
grain of corn, and the one who first had a square 
with one in the middle filled thus : • : would call out 
' Iceno,'' and take the money staked — each player, per- 
haps, having put up a ten cent piece. The banker 
paid himself by a percentage on the amount staked 
on each game. 

; "The garrison ground stands right at the junction 
of the Hillsborough Eiver with Tampa Bay, and is 
the prettiest place in Tampa. The officers first in 
command showed great taste in sparing the live-oaks ; 
and there they stand looking venerable from under 
their gray moss covering. 


" They ai^e breaking up Tampa as a military sta- 
tion. The head-quarters are to be at Fort Myers, the 
place to ■which I am going. I do not know how long 
I am to stay there. The schooner which runs to Fort 
Myers has not come back yet. 

" The oranges which you gave me were very ac- 
ceptable to the ladies and to myself. 

" My best love to grandmother, to Aunt Mary, and 

Aunt L . 

" Your affectionate nephew, 


On the day before the above letter was written, 
Lieutenant Greble appeared in full uniform before 
Colonel Monroe, the commander of the post, to an- 
nounce his arrival in Tampa. He was ordered to 
join his company at Fort Myers. The passenger 
schooner which was to convey him thither did not 
arrive at Tampa until almost a fortnight afterward, 
when, as he was preparing to go on board, he was 
ordered into the Cypress Swamp, out from Tampa, 
to superintend a number of men engaged in making 
canoes. It was a light but exceedingly uncomfort- 
able service. 

Lieutenant Greble left Tampa for the Cypress 
Swamp on the 15th of December. He travelled in 
a wagon with baggage and implements. His driver 
lost his way, and made a bold and perilous push 
directly across the country in the direction of the 
canoe-builders. The wagon was disabled in a hom- 
mock, and they were compelled to camp out for the 


night, almost without shelter or food. In the morn- 
ing Lieutenant Greble pressed forward on foot, 
guided by the sound of axes which had fallen faintly 
on his ear before starting. It was a wearisome and 
dangerous journey. He was often compelled to wade 
through water above his knees — the cold, chilling 
water of winter — and once he was almost submerged 
in a hole. In such plight, wet and weary, but brave 
and cheerful, he reached the camp of the wood-chop- 
pers, and forgot the hardships of the day while en- 
joying, in the evening, a bright fire after a warm 
supper, and an unexpected visit from his captain. 
It had been an uncomfortable introduction to a dis- 
agreeable service. 

And so it was, that day after day, in the cold, Avet 
swamp, the young soldier of delicate frame dis- 
charged his prescribed duties with fidelity and cheer- 
fulness. And there it was that he enjoyed his first 
Christmas dinner while in the military service. "To- 
day," he wrote to his mother on the sacred anniver- 
sary, "I caught a trout, and the sergeant sent me a 
piece of wild turkey ; so, with my turkey and trout, 
I made a very good Christmas dinner." 

In January, 1855, Lieutenant Greble received 
orders to go to another part of the swamp, the tim- 
ber where he was then engaged having become ex- 
hausted. He, and those under his command, went 
down the river in the completed canoes. It was a 
most fatiguing voyage. Sometimes they were com- 
pelled to saw apart huge obstructing logs, and at 
other times to get out of their boats into water waist 


deep, and push or scull their vessel over shoals. At 
night they encamped on the cold and sodden shores, 
and found no real comfort until they i"eached Roble's 
Bridge, a few miles from Tampa. And so it was 
that our young soldier was introduced to the actual 
military service of his eountiy in its least attractive 

At Roble's Bridge Lieutenant Greble received 
notice that the commander of the post at Tampa, and 
other oflflcers were about to start for Fort Myers ; 
and he was directed to come immediately to Fort 
Brooke and take charge of the post. He set out at 
once, and reached the fort just after the steamboat 
had left with the departing officers. There he wel- 
comed official responsibility and physical comfort. 
To the latter he had been a stranger for some time. 
" To eat at a table, and to eat something different 
from ham and sweet potatoes, is a luxury," he wrote. 
And yet he preferred the privations he had endured 
in the swamps, to the life of comparative inaction 
which he was compelled to lead in Tampa ; and he 
longed to be assigned to some post where he might 
find more active employment. "I am determined to 
endure hardness as a good soldier," he wrote. And 
under date of January 19th he recorded in his diary : 

"To-day is my birthday. To-day I am twenty- 
one years old. A free man in the eyes of the law. 
Heigh-ho ! There are harder times before me than I 
have yet passed through ; but I am ever ready for 

On the return of Colonel Monroe, Lieutenant Gre- 


ble was relieved of liis command of Fort Brooke, and 
ordered to join his company at Fort Myers, which he 
described as a "rather picturesque looking place, 
consisting of log, frame and palmetto houses, most 
of which have palmetto-thatched roofs." It was on 
the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, south of 
Tampa, and named in honor of Captain A. 0. Myers, 
of the Quartermaster's Department. There he re- 
ported to Colonel Brown, from whom he received in- 
stant orders to go up the river in a boat, explore its 
channels, shoals and shores, and make an accurate 
map. His efficiency in this service was fully mani- 
fested in his first report ; and he was kept busy in 
such duty, which was agreeable to him. It was 
rough, fatiguing, and responsible ; but he accepted 
all conditions with the greatest cheerfulness. His 
experience soon dispelled his dream of the paradisia- 
cal character of Florida; but he did not, in his letters, 
draw pictures of the darker side — of noisome mo- 
rasses, vast networks of poisonous vines, of loathsome 
reptiles, venomous serpents, and miasmatic fogs that 
penetrate to the marrow. He was too brave and 
generoiis to say ought in disparagement of the coun- 
tiy to awaken in the minds of his friends a suspicion 
that he was not in the full enjoyment of life there. 
He was too candid to allow them to be wholly igno- 
rant of some of the forbidding aspects of the region. 
" Tell papa," he wrote, "that I have noticed the topog- 
raphy of the country through which I have passed. 
Go a little way and you see pines. Go a little far- 
ther and you see pines ; and a little farther, and you 


see pines. Look as far as yon can, and yon see pines. 
It is a glorious country !" A little later he wrote : 
"I hope papa is not serious when he talks of coming 
to see me. Much as I would like to see him, I am 
afraid that he would think a visit no pleasure excur- 
sion, by the time he reached home again." 

Added to other discomforts of life at Fort Myers 
was a continual apprehension of an attack by the 
Indians. Their personal intercourse with the garri- 
son was friendly, but the latter thought they could 
discover indications that the red men only waited for 
a good opportunity to show themselves the most 
implacable foes. This feeling caused so much cau- 
tion and watchfulness that excellent discipline was 
afforded the soldiers. 

Late in February Lieutenant Greble was ordered 
to Fort McRae, on the eastern shore of Lake Okee- 
cho-bee, where a block-house was to be built. He 
left Fort Myers with ten men. The journey by land 
and water was very wearisome. They went up the 
Caloosahatchee to Fort Thompson, thence across the 
wet prairies to the Fish-Eating Creek, and then down 
that stream into and across Lake Okee-cho-bee, a 
sheet of water covering about twelve hundred square 
miles. They had a rough and perilous voyage across 
it, and found inhospitable camping grounds on its 
margin, for dreary swamps pressed close upon its 
borders. They reached Fort McRae in safety, and 
were there joined by another party detached for simi- 
lar duty. The block-house was soon built, and the 
eastern shores of the lake explored and mapped; and 


Lieutenant Greble and his party, returning by the 
way they went, reached Fort Myers on the fifteenth 
of March. 

During his absence. Lieutenant Greble's company 
had started on an expedition to the Everglades of 
Florida. He prepared to join them, but before he 
could get ready, serious consequences of his priva- 
tions and exposures in the swamps appeared in the 
form of fever and ague. His strong will nearly over- 
came the disease, and on the twentieth day of March, 
pale and weak, he left Fort Myers for the woods in 
company with some other officers. With the greatest 
fortitude he endured the hard experiences of that 
journey — a journey in which they were not allowed 
to pick their way, but were compelled to take a direct 
course in spite of every obstacle. Sometimes they 
were in solitary woods. Then they were in wet 
prairies, and constantly in water. Sometimes they 
were in sickly solitudes in tangled and malarious 
swamps, staking out the channels of muddy, slimy 
ponds ; and then they were upon barren wastes, 
wading more than knee deep in water or sinking to 
their ankles in soft mvid at every step. Again, they 
would be panting for breath in some arid desert, glad 
to moisten their lips in drops of water that may have 
oozed out into the tracks of alligators. All of these 
fatigues and privations Lieutenant Greble endured 
with a light heart, while burdened with the responsi- 
ble du.ties of commissary and quarter-master of the 

At one time the expedition encamped very near the 


village where Billy Bowlegs, the head chief of the 
Seminoles, lived. He often visited the camps, with 
two or three followers, and was always very friendly. 
One day, after dining at headquarters, he procured 
an abundance of liquor in some way, and, using it 
freely, became drunken and disorderly — so mischiev- 
ous that Lieutenant Greble, who was officer of the 
day, was compelled to turn him out of the camp by 
force. Billy, when sober, did not resent this act of 
seeming inhospitality, and the lieutenant became his 
favorite among the soldiers. His regard was mani- 
fested by his acts, and also by his words, when, one 
day, he and the young soldier were conversing 
together alone about affairs in Florida, he said : " If 
war should come between your people and mine, I 
will tell all my young men not to kill you. I will kill 
you myself. You must be killed by a chief." 

That the seven years' war with the Seminoles, in 
which hundreds of precious lives and millions of 
treasure were wasted for the benefit of Georgia and 
Florida x^lanters and speculators ; and that the final 
expulsion of the Seminoles — one of many like crimes 
committed by our government in its relations with 
the Indians — was for the gratification of the covetous 
desires of such planters and speculators of that day, 
no one who has carefully pondered the history of 
those events can doubt. Lieutenant Greble fully 
comprehended the matter when he wrote to his 
parents, saying : " The Indians are perfectly peace- 
able, and are the best inhabitants of the State, accord- 
ing to my way of thinking. I will not conceal from 


you, however, that it is the intention of the govern- 
ment to have them out of Florida. A group of poli- 
ticians have represented that the country occupied 
by the Indians is the most fruitful in the world — 
good land for coffee plantations, spice-groves, and all 
that — and the Indians, accordingly, have to vacate, 
xxnless they change their minds in Washington when 
they learn the true nature of the country." 

So it was when the splendid country of the Chero- 
kees, in Georgia, became the object of the white 
man's covetousness and cupidity — when fine farms, 
and schools, and churches abounded among them, 
and they had by their energy developed the marvel- 
lous resources of their country and laid the founda- 
tions of a solid structure of Indian civilization, that 
the decree went out from Washington, "The Indians 
must vacate !" and the dusky Christians were driven 
beyond the borders of the white man's civilization. 

When, at length. Lieutenant Greble was ordered 
back to Fort Myers, and arrived there, his delight at 
exchanging the privations of camp-life in the Ever- 
glades for the comforts of a regular post, was mani- 
fested in a joyous letter to his parents, showing that 
he had felt these privations of which he seldom 
gave hints. " How prettily the post looked as we 
came in," he said. " Everything was so neat and 
clean; a bunch of oleanders in full bloom; the broad 
river; the steamboat at the wharf; the neat build- 
ings, all looked like comfortable civilization. How 
glad I was to get in ; and how I envied the summer 
dresses of the officers ! What a treat it was to have 


a comfortable bath prepared, and linen to put on that 
had been koned !" 

Relieved from excitement, and reposing in the 
quiet of garrison life, Lieutenant Greble was soon 
fiercely attacked by the lurking disease which will 
and action had kept at bay. He was prostrated by 
it ; and for a while his life was in great jeopardy. 
It was defended by a naturally strong constitution, 
and signs of convalescence appeared. So soon as 
he was able to endure travel, a furlough was obtained 
for him, and he was conveyed to Philadelphia. There, 
under the tireless care of the dearly loved and loving 
ones of his home, he remained three months, at the 
end of which time he reported himself fit for duty. 
In February, 1856, he sailed for Florida at the head 
of a party of recruits, and arrived at Fort Myers just 
after his company had left the post for duty in the 
field. He was anxious to join them in active service, 
but the recruits were needed to fill the ranks, and he 
was ordered to remain in garrison and di'ill them. 
While performing that service he felt impelled by 
the requirements of duty to perform the solemn 
functions of a Christian minister. One of his soldiers 
died. There was no chaplain at the post. He could 
not bear the idea of seeing his comi'ade buried with- 
out I'eligious ceremonies, so, after some misgivings 
as to the propriety of his assuming the holy ofiice, 
he read over the dead body of the soldier the impres- 
sive funeral services of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church. Anxious to be right, he asked the opinion 
of his mother as to the propriety of his course, and 


said, " I thought it was better than to place the body 
in the ground without any religious exercises." 

" It was better," his mother wrote, " much better, 
my dear son, and far more impressive to his com- 
rades than it would have been had they walked away 
from his grave without hearing those comforting 
words. Besides, these men will regard you with far 
more respect for having done so, than if you had 
allowed them to deposit their lost comrade in the 
narrow tomb without one word." She cited a case 
in point which had lately occurred in the naval expe- 
dition to Japan, under Commodore Perry ; and 
strongly encouraged him to do likewise should an 
opportunity again offer. 

The quiet garrison life at Port Myers was soon 
disturbed. The Seminoles seemed to be more hos- 
tile, active and daring than they had yet been ; and 
orders were sent for Lieutenant Greble and his re- 
cruits to join his company in the field. In that 
service was engaged his fellow academician. Lieu- 
tenant Hartsufi", who was an eminent general officer in 
the late Civil War, and who, when Lieutenant Gre- 
ble was slain, wrote concerning him in that campaign 
in the Everglades : " Thereafter he could always be 
found in the field, constantly and actively engaged 
in the sometimes exciting, but oftener tedious, hard 
and laborious duty of pursuing and wearing out the 
crafty and almost ubiquitous Indians, until the 
autumn of 1856, when his company was ordered out 
of Florida. This kind of duty, which is the most 
difficult and aggravating, offers fewer points, and 



tries more true soldierly qualities than any other. 
Lieutenant Greble developed in it the truest and best 
qualities of the good soldier and officer, winning the 
esteem and admiration of his brother officers and the 
perfect confidence of the soldiers. He filled every 
position and performed eveiy duty with great credit 
to himself, and to the perfect satisfaction of his supe- 
rior officers. He never shrank from any duty, but 
always met it more than half way." 

Fully alive to the influence of that trait in his 
character, upon his actions, his loving and always 
jvidicious mother whose counsel was almost like pre- 
scriptive law to her son, wrote to him during the 
campaign, " Use every precaution you can consistent 
with the daring of an American officer, while you 
are in the neighborhood of the Indians. l^ever 
shrink from exposure when there is just cause; 
but thoughtless disregard of danger is no sign of 

During that campaign Lieutenant Greble was 
Commissary and Quartermaster of the troops, and 
performed the duties with singular skill and fidelity. 
And when late in the autumn of 1856, fresh troops 
were sent to Florida and the regiment to which he 
was attached was ordered to the north, he was re- 
lieved from duty in swamp and everglade, by an 
order dated " Head-Quarters, Department of Florida, 
Fort Brooke, ]^ovember 8, 1856," and signed by 
Francis N". Page, Assistant Adjutant-General. His 
commissary and quartermaster's accounts were very 
soon adjusted after his return, for they were kept in 


a perfect manner. It was found, after the usual rigid 
examination of them, that the government was the 
lieutenant's debtor to the amount of ten cents, for 
the payment of which he received an order on the 
treasury in due form. His father has preserved it as 
a curious illustration of the strict methods by which 
the government machinery is kept in perfect running 

So soon as Lieutenant Greble's accounts were ad- 
justed, he received an oi'der from the Secretary of 
War (Jefferson Davis), dated in December, 1856, to 
report to the Superintendent of the Military Academy 
at West Point (Major Delafield), for duty as Assist- 
ant professor in the Ethical Department of that In- 
stitution. At the head of that department was then 
(and is yet [1870]) the learned, pious, and faithful 
minister of the gospel, the Rev. John W. French, 
D. D., who was then (and is yet) the chaplain of the 
post. The appointment, made at the special request 
of the professors of the Academy, was not congenial 
to the taste of the lieutenant. He preferred the more 
active duties in the field, for those of a teacher were 
tame in comparison. He applied to be released from 
duty at the Academy and allowed to join his com- 
pany, but the favor was denied. A little later, when 
he was appointed to a first lieutenancy (March 3, 
1857), he again asked for the privilege of joining his 
company, when it was again denied. Then, as usual 
with him, though sorely disappointed, he made incli- 
nation subservient to obedience, and he performed 
the service prescribed by authority with alacrity and 


zeal. In this, as in many other instances in the lives 
of all men, Lieutenant Greble's disappointment was 
a mercy in disguise. 

The Avinning manners and beautiful life of his 
senior professor, and the parental kindness which he 
experienced at the hands of the good doctor and his 
sweet Avife, not only reconciled this youngest mem- 
ber of the Faculty to his new sphere of duty, but led 
him into paths of delicious enjoyment quite unsus- 
pected by him. Dr. French was already familiar 
with the general character of his assistant as a 
cadet and an officer; and, now, by a closer relation- 
ship in daily duty, he discovered the fine gold of 
that character in such abundance that he made him 
his companion, and an ever-welcome guest at his 
table and fireside. 

In that family a new realm of existence and enjoy- 
ment Avas revealed to the young professor. It first 
broke upon his vision as a counterpart of the pure 
and delightsome home influences Avhich, from earliest 
childhood, he had experienced, and were the brightest 
pictures in the gallery of his memory when he was 
living the life of a soldier in the roughest fields 
of active duty. The vision gradually grew more 
beautiful, and the central attraction in it was the 
charming daughter of Professor French, a sensible, 
gay, intellectual, innocent, laughing girl, the joy of 
her parents, and the admired of all beholders. The 
young professor's letters to his mother soon began 
to be burdened with pleasant sayings about the 
family of his senior ; and it was evident that while 


he loved Dr. French much, he loved his daughter 
Sarah more. His love was reciprocated by her. In 
both it was the offspring of purest friendship created 
by solid esteem. They appreciated each other's 
character, and they wei'e worthy of each other. 
"With the approval of her parents and his own, he 
became an openly accepted suitor, and they were 
affianced. Golden were the days of both between 
that betrothal and their nuptials. The native purity 
of his character was still more refined in the cruci- 
ble of love. 

" He had ceased 
To live -within himself. She was his life, 
The ocean to the river of his thoughts, 
Which terminated all." 

Tender and serious were his epistles to her when 
they were separated by distance. " May I be better 
and braver, more honorable and more generous since 
I have gained such love," he wrote on one occasion. 
"May you never know sorrow! It is treason to 
mention such a word to you who know so little its 
meaning. Do not look out the word. IN^ever learn 

its meaning I have everything to make 

me happy excepting what bad there is in myself; 
and that, I trust, with your kind help and the 
assistance of a Higher Power, may soon be driven 
from me." 

And so months passed away while the affianced 
waited for the nuptial ceremonies. A little south 
of the lines of the military post of "West Point, in 
the most picturesque region of the Hudson High- 


lands, is a beautiful little church, built many years 
ago by funds largely contributed by the eminent 
artist, Professor "Weir, of West Point, as an offering 
of affection in commemoration of little children he 
had lost. In that modest temple of worship, called 
the Church of the Holy Innocents, on a summer day, 
the 4th of August 1858, John T. G-reble and Sarah B. 
French were united in wedlock by the father of the 
bride. A short tour followed, and then the young 
couple made for themselves a home in a pleasant 
little cottage close by the dwelling of the parents of 
the wife. In its interior arrangements and outside 
adornment of shrubs and vines, it was an example of 
good taste ; and for more than two years uninter- 
rupted domestic happiness was as perpetual sunlight 
in that dwelling. Then came a disturbance of the 
stream of life on which they were borne so gently. 

In the autumn of 1860, portents of the terrible 
storm of civil war which burst upon our land a few 
months later, were everywhere apparent. Men who 
were conducting the affairs of the government were 
secretly preparing to destroy it for the pui'pose of 
building up from its ruins an empire, whose corner 
stone should be the system of human slavery then 
existing in several states of our Republic. In those 
states forts and arsenals Avere filled with men, arms 
and ammunition drawn from those in free-labor 
states, preparatory to a rebellion and revolution. 
Among the strongholds so situated was powerful 
Portress Monroe, on the margin of Hampton Roads 
in southeastern Virginia, which the conspirators 


expected to seize and hold. Lieutenant Greble's 
company formed a part of the garrison there, and in 
October, 1860, he was relieved from duty at West 
Point and ordered to join his company in arms. 
His home on the Hudson, in which he left his wife 
and two babes, was speedily broken up, for they 
followed him in November. In two of the casemates 
of the grim fortress they found a comfortable dwell- 
ing which the husband, with exqiiisite taste, had so 
fitted up that it appeared really beautiful and attrac- 

IS^ot long after Lieutenant Grreble and his family 
became settled at Fortress Monroe, a trial of the 
loyalty of the servants of the Republic began. The 
passage of the ordinance of secession by a conven- 
tion of politicians, in South Carolina, late in Decem- 
ber, was the signal for action elsewhere. Officers 
in the military and naval service began to offer 
their resignations preparatory to an alliance with 
the enemies of the government in an armed resist- 
ance to its authority. Among them was a friend 
and classmate of Lieutenant Greble, then stationed 
at Fortress Monroe. "When the Lieutenant heard of 
the act, he hastened to his friend, and remonstrated 
with him with such force of argument and warmth 
of patriotism that he was induced to reconsider his 
treasonable designs. He was willing to retrace his 
dangerous steps, but there was a difficulty in the 
way. To recall his resignation, it would be neces- 
sary for him to go immediately to "Washington city, 
and, perhaps, remain there some time. He had not 


sufficient means for the purpose. These were freely 
offered by Lieutenant Greble from his own purse, 
which contained only sufficient for his own needs. 
He was resolved to save from ruin, and to the service 
of his country, a friend and skilful officer, and he 
made a sacrifice for that end. He was fond of books, 
and had a choice collection at his quarters. He was 
about to add to it a copy of the " Encyclopedia Bri- 
tannica," having already ordered the work. He 
countermanded the order, gave his friend the amount 
he was to pay for the books, and with joyful heart 
saw him start for the national capital on his re- 
pentant errand. 

Here attention may be properly called to a trait 
in the character of Lieutenant Greble, worthy of the 
gravest consideration by young men when starting 
out in life for themselves. His father was in affluent 
circumstances, and was ever ready to give ample 
pecuniary aid to his son ; but that son, in the exer- 
cise of a proper independence of spirit, had resolved 
to make his wants conform to the income of a pro- 
fession which he had chosen as a life vocation. 
From the hour when he entered the service of his 
country, his uniform practice was in accordance 
with that resolution; and every gift which he re- 
ceived from his, parents he gratefully thanked them 
for as a token of affection, and not as a help in the 
battle of life. With the unfeigned expression of 
delight which an unexpected and welcome gift from 
a friend might evoke, did he acknowledge the present 
of a pair of elegant pistols which his father sent to 
him at Fortress Monroe. 


Toward the middle of April, 1861, war was fairly 
commenced by the conspirators against the life of 
the Republic, by a bombardment of Fort Sumter, in 
Charleston harbor in obedience to their orders, the 
expulsion of the national garrison, and the seizure 
of the stronghold as spoil. Then President Lincoln 
called for seventy-five thousand troops to suppress 
the rising rebellion, and reinforcements were sent to 
the garrison at Fortress Monroe to give it strength 
sufiicient to resist any attack from the Virginia in- 
surgents. As all the quarters there would be needed 
for the troops, oi'ders were issued for the removal of 
the women and children from the post. The little 
family of Lieutenant Greble were subject to this 
order. He sent a notice of the fact to his father, and 
received from that patriotic citizen the following 
letter thoroughly characteristic of the man : — 

"Philadelphia, April 19, 1861. 

" Mt Dear Son : — 

Your letter of the 17th was received about ten 
minutes ago. I was in hourly expectation of re- 
ceiving one from you, and anticipated its contents. 
Send your family on to me ; they shall be most wel- 
come, and I will take good care of them as long as 
the trouble shall exist. 

" It is needless so say to you, be true to the Stars 
and Stripes. The blood of revolutionary patriots is 
in your veins, and it must all be drawn out before 
you cease to fight for your country and its laws. 

"I saw in this day's paper that treason was within 



the walls of Forti'ess Monroe, and that a scheme had 
been discovered to betray the fort into the hands of 
the secessionists. I have most strenuously contra- 
dicted it, and tell my friends that I do not believe 
there is a traitor, from the highest in command to 
the private soldier, within the walls of Fort Monroe, 
and that if there should be found such a villain. Col. 
Dimick would soon have him before a platoon, who 
would make short work of him. Give my best re- 
gards to Col, Dimick. The eyes of the nation are 
now upon him. His position is of tenfold more im- 
portance than that of Major Anderson's was at Fort 
Sumter. Every officer and every man share with 
him in the responsibility and glory of defending this 
important post. 

" The war feeling in this city is ' up and for doing.' 
The entire population are infected. There is no 
' divided IS^orth' ; all parties are outraged by the 
ti-eason of the South. The secession of Virginia was 
expected and even desired : let the battle-ground be 
on her soil ! 

" I made an offer to equip any two of my work- 
men that desired to serve their country. Robert 
Garrett and George Wallen accepted the offer. 
"Wallen is an apprentice over twenty years of age. 
He is worth to me two dollars per day. I cheerfully 
let him go. Your mother is now making purchases 
for them. I have directed her to get every article 
they may want, and that of the best quality. Word 
has just come to me that another of my apprentices, 
a first-rate fellow, has enlisted. He has my permis- 


sion. I expect my places will be depopulated ; the 
war fever is among them. 

"Last night I joined the old 'Washington Grays.' 
They will organize a regiment for home protection. 
It would have done you good to see the gray and 
bald-headed men with the ardor of youth enrolling 
themselves — men who own hundreds of thousands. 
Mr. Dreer was among them. He sends his love to 
you and family. He is very enthusiastic, and will 
contribute largely to the supporting of his country. 

"The troops from Massachusetts arrived last 
night, and departed this morning. They are a fine 
looking body of men. To-night we expect the 7th 
Regiment from JSTew York. 

" To get this letter by to-day's mail, I must now 
close. Our dearest loves to you all. My regards to 
the officers whom I know. 

" Your affectionate father, 


It seems proper to say that this patriotic father, 
who gave this soldier son, also a younger and only 
other one, and several of his workmen, to the service 
of his country in its hour of greatest need, and en- 
rolled himself, with his neighbors and friends with 
a readiness to take the field if necessary, gave also 
his time and money freely for the cause during the 
entire period of the war. 

Mrs. Grreble, with her two children and nurse, left 
Fortress Monroe for Philadelphia on the 18th of 
April, and arrived in Baltimore the next daj'^ at the 


time of the murderous attack of the mob on Massa- 
chusetts and Pennsylvania troops that were on their 
way to Washington city. All lines of communica- 
tion with the I^orth were cut off, and this brave 
young mother, with her little family, was compelled 
to go by way of Harper's Ferry and Western Mary- 
land and "Virginia to Ohio, and thence eastward 
through Pittsburg and Harrisburg to Philadelphia, 
Avhere she was received with open arms by the family 
of her husband. That husband was for several days 
ignorant of the perils to which his loved ones had 
been exposed. 

After the departure of his family, Lieutenant 
Greble employed much of his leisure time in read- 
ing, in writing letters to his wife and his parents, and 
in jotting down his thoughts in his note-book. His 
young wife's letters to him were sources of exquisite 
enjoyment. "It is delightful to hear from you," he 
wrote, weeks after their departure, "and to learn how 
rapidly the little ones are progressing. To me it 
seems wonderful that Edwin should be talking so 
plainly in such long sentences ; and that the little 
girl should be different from what she was when you 
left me. I am very proud of my wife and little ones; 
and I very often hear others speak of them in such a 
way as to jvistify me and to make me regard them as 

persons of good taste and judgment. J G , 

who was here the other day, spoke very prettily of 
you. If Clara grows up to be as beautiful in woman- 
hood as her mother, and Edwin grows to be a better 


man than his father, my dearest wishes will be ful- 

He was very prudent in writing to his wife con- 
cerning public matters. "Be careful," he said, "to 
whom you speak about what I write. I may, -by 
accident, say something about what we do here, that 
it would not be advisable to repeat. Besides, I have 
a horror of anything I write getting into print." 

One record in his note-book, of his meditations, 
possesses much interest in connection with the sad 
event which occurred in the early summer months, 
soon afterward. " De Quincy," he wrote, " thinks 
that death in summer time seems always saddest, 
and amongst several reasons, adduces the idea of the 
contrast between the beautiful world left behind and 
the dismal grave. I think that the winter funeral 
brings the most awful feelings to the mind. In sum- 
mer the grave seems but an opening in the ground in 
which we are to plant seed that in time will ripen 
into plants more beautiful than the tall trees and rich 
flowers around us. I think, too, that when the blood 
runs quickly through our veins in the warm sun- 
shine, we may more easily form a proper estimate of 
that heavenly world which so far exceeds in beauty 
this. I believe it is easier to estimate a knowledge 
of a higher degree of a quality in proceeding from a 
knowledge of a lower degree of the same, than it 
would be if we commenced by overleaping a contrast. 
The hard ground and ice-cemented gravel of a winter 
grave, the snow and the wind, bring to our mind a 


heaven different from that seen through green boughs, 
flowers, and grassy mounds." 

Consonant with this feeling was that of the un- 
named poet, who wrote : — 

Oh, lay me in the beauteous earth 

Beneath the flowers of June ; 
When all the groves are filled with song — 

Our hearts are all attune 
With voices that come down the sky 

From realms of light afar, 
And sweetly tell the captive soul 

Of prison doors ajar. 
Through which it may, with folded wings. 

Pass out with sins forgiven. 
And, spreading them in God's free air, 

Fly to its native heaven. 

Lieutenant Grreble was anxious to act in a broader 
sphere of usefulness than his commission would 
allow; and on the 6th of May he asked Colonel 
Phelps to give him a captain's commission in a new 
regiment of artillery, or to be transferred " to a posi- 
tion among the five highest first lieutenants in the 
regiment." His aspirations were gratified, not ex- 
actly in the way he desired, but in a manner equally 
satisfactory, as we shall observe presently. 

Major-General B. F. Butler had been appointed to 
the command of the Department of Virginia, at the 
middle of May, with his head-quarters at Fortress 
Monroe. He arrived there on the 22d of the month, 
and was cordially welcomed by Colonel Dimick, of 
the regular army, who, as commander of the post, 
had acted with great lorudence, skill, and patriotism. 
He had already quietly and significaTitly turned a 


large number of the four hundred great guns of the 
fortress landward, and so taught the Virginia con- 
spirators and their deceived followers to be very cau- 
tious and circumspect. 

General Butler found that key to the waters of 
Maryland, Virginia and upper ISTorth Carolina, 
firmly in possession of the garrison. To the further 
security of the position he bent his energies. He 
sent Colonel Phelps at the head of Vermont troops, 
on the 23d of May, to reconnoitre the vicinity of 
Hampton. They found the bridge over Hampton 
Creek in flames kindled by the insurgents. The 
fire was extinguished. They crossed over, dashed 
into Hampton, drove the few armed insurgents there 
out upon the road to Yorktown, and returning, 
established a camp on the borders of Hampton 
Creek and cast up a redoubt at the end of the 
bridge — the first fortification constructed by the 
JS^ational troops on Virginia soil. 

General Butler now planned and began to execute 
operations against Richmond, the chosen capital of 
the so-called " Confederate Govei'nment." On the 
27th of May, he sent Colonel Phelps with a detach- 
ment of troops, to occupy and fortify the promon- 
tory of ISTewport-I^ewce, at the mouth of the James 
River, where the gun-boat Harriet Lane was sta- 
tioned for their protection. He was accompanied 
by Lieutenant Greble whom, the day before, he had 
appointed Master of Ordnance, with the responsible 
duty of superintending the construction of military 
works at l!fewport-]^ewce, and instructing about 


three thousand volunteers in artillery practice. His 
command consisted of two subaltern officers and 
twenty men of the regular army. " Camp Butler" 
was immediately established ; and in the course of a 
few days, Lieutenant Greble had a battery planted 
that commanded the ship-channel of the James 
River and the mouth of the I^ansemond, on one side 
of which, on Pig Point, the insurgents had con- 
structed a strong redoubt and armed it with cannon 
stolen from the Gosport ISTavy Yard. 

On the day after Colonel Phelps's departure from 
Fortress Monroe, Colonel Abraham Duryee, com- 
mander of a regiment of Zouaves composing the 
Fifth I^ew York Volunteers, arrived at that post 
and took command of Camp Hamilton on the borders 
of Hampton Creek. His troops there consisted of 
the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Tenth, and Twen- 
tieth Nevf York Volunteer regiments, and the 
Pennsylvania Seventy-first, known as the California 
Regiment, commanded by Colonel Baker, a mem- 
bei- of the United States Senate, who was afterward 
killed at Ball's Blufi", on the Potomac. Duryee was 
succeeded in command a few days after his arrival, 
by Bi'igadier-General E. W. Peirce, of Massachu- 
setts. It was on the 4th of June. 

The necessary inaction at Fortress Monroe, and 
the threatening aspect of affairs at IS'ewport-l^ewce, 
which Lieutenant Greble had made almost impreg- 
nable, caused the armed insurgents on the Peninsula, 
commanded by Colonel J. Bankhead Magruder, who 
had deserted his flag and joined its enemies, to act 


with boldness, and yet with caution and vigilance. 
Their principal rendezvous was at Yorktown, which 
they were fortifying, and from which they came 
down the Peninsula and established inti-enched posts 
at Big and Little Bethel. Magruder evidently in- 
tended to attempt the seizure of Hampton and 'New- 
port-jN^ewce, and confine the JS^ational troops to 
Fortress Monroe. 

General Butler, satisfied that such were Magruder's 
intentions, determined to make a countervailing 
movement by an attack upon his outposts by troops 
moving upon them at midnight in two columns, one 
from Fortress Monroe, and the other from ISTewport- 
ISTewee. On Sunday, the 9th of June, General Peirce 
received a summons from General Butler to repair 
to the Fortress. Too ill to ride on horseback, 
Peirce went to the fort by water. There he was 
shown a plan for an attack upon the insurgents 
at the two Bethels, which had been arranged, 
as Major Theodore Winthrop of General Butler's 
staff wrote in his diary, partly from the hints 
of the General, and partly by the fancy of that 
aide-de-camp. General Peirce then received orders 
to command the expedition. He was instructed to 
lead Duryee's Fifth and Townsend's Third ]S"ew 
York Volunteers, from Camp Hamilton to a point 
near Little Bethel, where he was to be joined by a 
detachment of Colonel Phelps's command, at I^ew- 
port-IS^ewce. The latter consisted of a battalion of 
Vermont and Massachusetts troops under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel "Washburne; Colonel Bendix's Ger- 


mans, composing the Seventh ]^ew York, and known 
as the Steuben rifles, and a battery of two light 
field-pieces — six pounders — in charge of Lieutenant 
Greble, who was accompanied by eleven artillery- 
men of his little band of regulars. 

On the afternoon of the day at whose evening 
close the movement against the insurgents was un- 
dertaken, T. Bailey Myers, an officer of General 
Butler's stafi", visited Lieutenant Greble. In a letter 
written after the death of that young officer, Mr. 
Myers said : — 

"I found him with his tent pitched nearest the 
enemy, in the most exposed position, one of his own 
selecting, living and sleeping by his gun, the gun 
which he used so faithfully a few hours later. His 
pleasant open face, and kind, gentle manner, won me 
from the first. We exchanged many little courtesies. 
I was his guest, and the object of his thoughtful and 
kind attentions. I never met with a more high- 
minded, honorable gentleman. If, in this rebellion, 
we met with no other loss, one such man is enough 
to render it an execration throughout all time. He 
was intent on robbing war of half its horrors ; and 
was deeply interested in, and cooperated with me 
manfully in plans for checking the depredations 
about the camp at JSTewport-l^ewce. In this he dis- 
played a firmness and moral courage that satisfied 
one of his manly character, and made a strong im- 
pression on the General. He spoke of the possibility, 
even probability of his speedy fall, with perfect cool- 
ness, and seemed entirely prepared to meet all the 


dangers of sustaining the flag. I need not say to 
you how proud I should have been to have stood by 
his side on that fatal day ; to have seconded his 
efibrts ; to have aided his friends in bringing off the 
body, as I am sure he would have brought mine." 

On the morning of that beautiful Sabbath day 
when the expedition against the outposts of the in- 
surgents was ordered, and before Lieutenant Greble 
was informed of the arrangement, he wrote to his 
wife in the midst of the excitement of the camp, say- 

"It is a delightful Sunday morning. It has a 
Sabbath feeling about it. If you had lost the run of 
the week, such a day as to-day would tell you it was 
the Sabbath. The camp is unusually quiet ; and its 
stillness is broken by little excepting the organ-tones 
of some of the Massachusetts men, who are on the 
beach singing devotional airs. Last Sabbath the 
men' were in the trenches. To-day is their first day 
of rest. A great deal of work has been done during 
the past week under unfavorable circumstances — 
rainy days. With very little additional labor, our 
whole line of intrenchments will be finished. There 
is a little trimming off to be done, and a magazine to 
be built ; a little earth to be thrown up in front of 
some heavy columbiads that have been mounted, and 
some store-houses to be built. But enough has been 
done to allow the rest to be completed by genei-al 
details, and to give a chance for drilling. Colonel 
Phelps has appointed me ordnance officer of the 
post. We do not fear an attack ; the position is too 


stroBg. I hear that Davis has given the federal 
troops ten days to leave the soil of Virginia. The 
time is nearly up, but we are not quite ready to move 

away I hope that I may be given courage 

and good judgment enough to do well my duty 
under any circumstances in which I may be placed. 
As far as I can see, there is not much danger to be 
incurred in this campaign, at present. Both sides 
seem to be better inclined to talking than fighting. 
If talking could settle it by giving the supremacy, 
forever, to the general government, I think it would 
be better than civil war. But that talking can 
settle it I do not believe." 

A few hours after this letter was written Lieuten- 
ant Greble was informed of the order for the move- 
ment against the outposts of the insurgents, and of 
the general plan of operations. He was astonished 
and disturbed. His professional culture and quick 
judgment saw the defects of the plan and the perils 
involved in an attempt to execute it. " This is an 
ill-advised and badly-arranged movement," he said 
to a brother ofiicer. "I am afraid no good will 
come out of it. As for myself, I do not think I shall 
come off the field alive." 

As the expedition was to move in the night, and 
there was to be a conjunction of troops converging 
from two points. General Butler took measures to 
prevent accidents. He ordered the word " Boston" 
to be given to each party as a watchword, and that 
they should all wear on their left arms a white rag 
or handkerchief, so as to be known to each other. 


He also ordered that the troops which should first 
attack the insurgents should shout "Boston." 

The column at Camp Hamilton was to move at 
midnight, and that at ]^ewport-!Newce a little later, 
as its line of march would be over a less distance. 
These orders were promptly obeyed. Duryee, with 
his Zouaves, left just before midnight, preceded by 
two companies of skii-mishers under Captains Bart- 
lett and Kilpatrick, followed an hour later by Colonel 
Townsend's Albany Regiment with two mountain 
howitzers to support the Zouaves. The fire had 
made the passage of Hampton Bridge, in the dark- 
ness, unsafe, and so the troops were all ferried across 
the creek in surf-boats. Townsend was ordered to 
take a by-road after crossing ISTew Market Bridge 
over the southwest branch of Back River, and to get 
between the insurgent forces at Big and Little 
Bethel. This accomplished, he was to fall upon 
them at the latter place, just at dawn, simultaneously 
with an attack from the column from JS^ewport- 
JS'ewce, whose march was to be timed in reference to 
this particular movement. If it should be successful, 
the united columns were to press forward and attack 
the insurgents at Big Bethel. 

Owing to delay in making the passage of Hamp- 
ton Creek, the skirmish companies did not reach 
JSTew Market Bridge until one o'clock in the morn- 
ing, where they halted until the Zouaves came up, 
at three o'clock, when they all pushed on toward the 
new county bridge at Big Bethel, and a little be- 
fore dawn captured an insurgent picket-guard of 


thirty men. In the meantime, Lievitenant-Colonel 
Washburne had advanced from !Newport-]l!^ewce, fol- 
lowed by Colonel Bendix, with his Germans, and 
Lieutenant Greble with his battery and little band 
of artillerymen as supports. 

Both columns were pressing forward in proper time 
and order to the designated point of junction, when, 
in consequence of the omission of one of General 
Butler's aids (who had been sent to l!^ewport-]S^ewce 
with orders for the advance), to give the watchword 
there and directions about the white badges, there 
was a most unfortunate accident. Townsend and 
Bendix approached the point of junction, in a thick 
wood, at the same moment. The dress of Townsend's 
men was similar to that of the insurgents. They 
wore their white badges, and were ready to shout 
the watch- word. Bendix, ignorant of the order 
concerning the word and the badges, and knowing 
that the insurgents had, with like precaution, worn 
a white band around their hats, seeing Townsend's 
troops in the pale starlight made dim by a slight 
mist, just before the dawn, mistook them for Ma- 
gruder's men. He also mistook General Peirce and 
Colonel Townsend, who were riding at the head of 
the column, for insurgent cavalry. Satisfied that he 
was confronting an enemy, he ordered an attack, 
and fire was opened upon the front of Townsend's 
column with musketry and one cannon. Lieutenant 
Greble, pushing eagerly forward, was a mile or more 
in advance, with the other cannon. Townsend's 
men shouted "Boston" lustily, while Bendix's men 


as lustily shouted "Saratoga." The shots of the 
Germans were returned irregularly, for there was 
great confusion. The assailed party supposing they 
had fallen into ambush, retreated to the fork of the 
road, when the dreadful mistake was discovered. 
Townseud had lost two men killed and several 
wounded. The aide-de-camp whose remissness had 
caused the trouble, was present and greatly dis- 
tressed. "How can I go back and look General 
Butler in the face!" he exclaimed. 

Colonel Duryee, who, as we have observed, had 
just captured a picket-guard, and Lieutenant-Colonel 
Washburne and Lieutenant Greble, all in advance, 
hearing firing in their rear, supposed the insurgents 
had fallen upon their supporting columns, and they 
immediately changed front and joined the sadly con- 
fused columns of Townsend and Bendix. Mean- 
while, General Peirce, who was satisfied that the 
insurgents at Big Bethel had been warned of the 
approach of national troops by the firing, sent for 
reinforcements. The First and Second ]S[ew York 
regiments under Colonels Allen and Carr, were im- 
mediately sent forward from Camp Hamilton with 
orders for the latter to halt at I^Tew Market Bridge 
until further directions. The insurgents at Little 
Bethel, not more than fifty in number, had fled to 
the stronger post at Big Bethel, four or five miles 
nearer Yorktown, and twelve miles from Hampton 
Bridge. Their position was a strong one on the bank 
of the northwest branch of Back River, with that 
stream directly in front, which was there narrow and 


shallow and spanned by a bridge, but widening on 
each flank into a morass that was, much of the time, 
impassable. They had erected a strong earthwork 
on each side of the road, which commanded the 
bridge, and a line of intrenchments along the bank 
of the wooded swamp on their right. Immediately 
in the rear of their works was a wooden building 
known as Big Bethel Church. Behind their works, 
which were masked by green boughs and partly 
concealed by a wood, were about eighteen hundred 
insurgents (many of them cavalry) under Magruder, 
composed of Virginians and a !N^orth Carolina regi- 
ment under Colonel D. D. Hill. The whole insur- 
gent force at Big Bethel Avas estimated by Kilpatrick, 
after a reconnoissance, to be about four thousand men 
and twenty pieces of heavy cannon. They were not 
half that number. 

The national troops quickly followed the fugitives 
from Little Bethel, and at half-past nine o'clock in 
the morning reached a jaoint within a mile of Magru- 
der's works. I^fotwithstanding the evident strength 
of the insurgents and the fatigue of his own troops 
after a night on foot and a march in the hot sun, 
General Peirce, after consultation with his officers, 
resolved to attack the foe, and made dispositions 
accordingly. Duryee's Zouaves were ordered to lead 
in the attack. Skii-mishers under Captains Bartlett, 
Kilpatrick, and Winslow, and all under the general 
command of Lieutenant-Colonel Gr. K. Warren of 
the Zouaves, who was familiar with the ground, were 
thrown out on each side of the road leading to the 


bridge, closely followed by Duryee, and tlie four 
pieces of artillery (including Townsend's two moun- 
tain howitzers) in charge of Lieutenant Greble. On 
the right of the advancing force was a wood that 
extended almost to the stream, and in the front and 
left were an orchard and cornfield. Into the orchard 
and cornfield Duryee advanced obliquely, with Town- 
send as a support on the right and rear. Greble, 
with his battery, continued to advance along the 
road, with Bendix as a support, whose regiment 
deployed in the wood on the right of the highway 
toward the left flank of the insurgents, with three 
companies of Massachusetts and Vermont troops, of 
Washburne's command. 

Major Randolph, Commander of the Richmond 
Howitzer Battalion, opened the combat by firing a 
Parrot rifle-cannon from the insurgent battery at the 
right of the bridge. To this the national troops re- 
sponded with cheers while steadily advancing. A 
heavy fire from the insurgents followed. In the face 
of it the troops continued to advance, with the inten- 
tion of dashing across the stream and storming the 
works of the foe. Most of the shot had passed over 
their heads. JSow the firing became more accurate. 
Men began to fall here and there. The storm of 
metal soon became intolerable, and the skirmishers 
and Zouaves withdrew to the shelter of the woods on 
the right of the road. They would doubtless have 
been followed by the elated insurgents had not Lieu- 
tenant Grreble, fully comprehending the perils of the 
situation, with consummate skill and courage kept 


them at bay with his little battery. "With all the 
coolness of an officer on dress parade, he sighted the 
pieces, himself, every time ; and continually advanc- 
ing, he poured upon the works of the insurgents such 
a rapid and effective shower of grape and canister 
shot, that he silenced all their guns excepting the 
rifled Parrot cannon. He finally halted at a distance 
of not more than two hundred yards from the muz- 
zles of Magruder's cannon, and that position he kept 
for almost two hours with two guns and eleven men, 
holding the insurgents in strict check while the re- 
mainder of the army, relieved from attack, were 
resting and preparing for a general assault. Warren 
managed to send him some relief; and so it was that 
by a skilful use of his guns, with a limited supply of 
ammunition, Lieutenant Greble kept the enemy 
within their works until the national troops were 
ready to renew the attack. 

At noon the bugles sounded a charge, and Peirce's 
little army of twenty-five hundred men moved rapidly 
forward with instructions to dash across the morass, 
flank the works of the insurgents, and drive out the 
occupants at the point of the bayonet. Duryee's 
Zouaves moved to attack them on their left, and 
Townsend's regiment started for like service against 
their right, while Bendix, with his Germans, and the 
rest of the troops of the I^ewport-lSfewce detachment 
should assail them on the left flank and rear. Gre- 
ble, meanwhile, kept his position in the road on their 

Kilpatrick, Bartlett, and "Winslow charged boldly 



on the front of the foe, while Captain Dimick and 
Lieutenant Duryee (son of the colonel) and some of 
Townsend's regiment as boldly fell upon their right. 
The insurgents were driven out of their battery 
nearest the bridge, and a speedy victory for the 
national troops seemed inevitable. The Zouaves 
were then advancing through the wood to the morass, 
but their commander, believing it to be impassable, 
ordered them to retire. Townsend was pressing 
vigorously on toward the right of the foe, but was 
suddenly checked by a fatal blunder. In the haste 
of starting, two companies of his regiment had 
marched unobserved on the side of a thickly-hedged 
ditch opposite the main body, and, pushing rapidly 
forward, came up a gentle slope at some distance in 
the front where the smoke was thick, to join their 
companions. Their dress, as we have observed, was 
similar to that worn by the insurgents, and they were 
mistaken for a party of Magruder's men outflanking 
the 'New Yorkers. Townsend immediately halted, 
and then fell back to the point of departure. 

At this critical juncture, Greneral Peirce had placed 
himself at the head of the Zouaves to lead them to 
an attack, and Bendix and the rest of the ISTewport- 
IS^ewce detachment were pressing forward in obedience 
to orders. Some of them crossed the moi'ass and felt 
sure of victory, when they were driven back by a 
murderous fire. The insurgents having been relieved 
from pressure on their right by the withdrawal of 
Townsend, had concentrated' the forces at the front 
of this assaulting party. Major Theodore Winthrop, 


a gallant young officer of General Butler's staff", was 
with the I^ewport-JS^ewce troops at the time, and had 
pressed eagerly forward with private Jones of the 
Vermont regiment, to a point within thirty or forty 
yards of the battery. There he sprang upon a log to 
get a view of the position, when the bullet of a ^orth 
Carolina drummer-boy penetrated his brain, and he 
fell dead. 

Townsend's retirement, the repulse on the right, 
and the assurance of Colonel Duryee that his ammu- 
nition was exhausted, caused General Peirce, with 
the concurrence of his colonels, to order a retreat. 
Lieutenant Greble was still at work, but with only 
one gun, for he had only five men left. An officer 
who saw that the day was lost, went to him and 
begged him to retreat, or at least to dodge as the 
others did. His characteristic reply was, " I nevek 
DODGE ! "When I hear the bugle sonnd a retreat I 
will leave, and not before." Then came the order 
to retire, when he directed Corporal Peoples to 
limber up the piece and take it away. The order 
had scarcely passed his lips when a ball from Ran- 
dolph's rifled cannon struck a glancing blow on the 
right side of his head. " Sergeant !" he exclaimed, 
" take command — go a-head," and then fell dead by 
the side of the gun he had so nobly served, and with 
which he had saved the little army from greater dis- 
aster. "I was near him during much of the engage- 
ment between the two forces," Lieutenant-Colonel 
(afterward Major- General) G. K. Warren wrote, 
just after the battle, "and can testify to his un- 


daunted bravery in the action, and to the skill and 
success with which his guns were served. His effi- 
ciency alone prevented our loss from being thrice 
what it was, by preventing the opposing batteries 
from sweeping the road along which we marched ; 
and the impression which he made on the enemy de- 
terred them from pursuing our retreating forces hours 
after he had ceased to live." 

Such, also, was the judgment of others. He sacri- 
ficed his own life for the lives of many, and the honor 
of his country. Had he " dodged" or retreated, as 
he was urged to do, the efiect would have been to in- 
timidate the few men that remained with him, and to 
allow the enemy to cut off the retreat of the little 
army. He knew this, and stood by his gun. 

When Lieutenant Greble fell, his guns were aban- 
doned, and the whole army, covered by the fresh 
troops under Colonel Allen who arrived just before 
the close of the battle, retreated in excellent order. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Warren and Captain Wilson ral- 
lied a few men, and placing the body of the gallant 
Greble on one of his guns, took both in safety to 
Fortress Monroe. All the dead and wounded, ex- 
cepting the body of young Winthrop, were borne 
from the field by the retiring troops. Out of respect 
to the gallantry of that officer, the insurgents gave 
it a respectful burial at Bethel, and a few days after- 
wards allowed it to be disinterred and delivered to 
the friends of the dead hero. Arms and ammunition 
were also borne away ; and very little inconvenience 
was experienced from the insurgent cavalry who 


pursued about six miles, when they turned back, and 
Magruder and his little force withdrew to Yorktown. 
Lieutenant Greble's body was borne tenderly by 
his brother officers to Fortress Monroe, and there 
prepared for burial. In one of his pockets was found 
a pencil-drawn note to his wife, whom he had not 
seen since her departure for Philadelphia, with her 
babes, more than seven weeks before. It was evi- 
dently written after his arrival on the field where he 
was to suffer martyrdom in the cause of his country, 
of freedom, and the rights of man. " May God bless 
you, my darling !" he wrote, "and grant you a happy 
and peaceful life. May the Good Father protect you 
and me, and grant that we may live haj)pily together 
long lives. God give me strength, wisdom, and 
courage. If I die, let me die as a brave and honor- 
able man; let no stain of dishonor hang over me or 
you. Devotedly, and with my whole heart's love. 

Your Husband." 

On the morning after the battle at Big Bethel, or 
County Creek as it was first called, and before intel- 
ligence had reached the people of the IN^orth, the 
father of the gallant Greble left Philadelphia for that 
post, to visit his son and convey to him tokens of 
affection from his home. He was accompanied by 
his patriotic friend Mr. Dreei-. Just as they were 
going on board the steamboat, at Baltimore, that 
was to convey them to Fortress Monroe, a newspaper 
" extra" conveyed to them the sad intelligence of the 
battle and the death of the loved one. The blow was 


a terrible one for the father, but it was bravely borne 
as became a Christian and a patriot willing to make a 
holy sacrifice for God and his country. With a sad 
heart he voyaged down the Chesapeake that night; 
but sweetly was his smitten spirit soothed on his 
arrival by the tokens of love for his son and sympathy 
for the bereaved, everywhere manifested. Mourning 
for the loss of the young hero was universal and 
heartfelt. All that brave and generous men could 
do for a cherished companion, had already been done 
in honor of the dead and in preparations for the con- 
veyance of the body to Philadelphia; and the father 
had only to take his place in the funeral procession 
as chief mourner, without the burden of a single care 
as to details. 

On Tuesday, the day after the battle, the following 
record was made : — 

"At a meeting of the ofiicers of the army at Fort- 
ress Moni'oe, Virginia, on the 11th of June, the fol- 
lowing resolutions were adopted relative to the 
lamented death of Johii T. Greble, late a first-lieu- 
tenant of the Second Regiment United States Artil- 
lery, who was killed at County Creek, near this post, 
on the 10th instant : — 

" Resolved, That the heroic death of this gallant 
officer fills us all with admiration and regret. Stand- 
ing at his piece in the open road, in front of the 
enemy's battery, till shot down, he served it with the 
greatest coolness and most undaunted courage. 

"Resolved, That, while deploring his untimely end, 
and feeling that his loss to his country is great, and 


to his family and friends irreparable, still a death so 
glorious can but tend to lighten the burden of grief 
to all. 

'■'■Resolved, That, as a mark of respect to the 
memory of the deceased, the officers of the army 
stationed at this post wear the usual badge of mourn- 
ing for thirty days. 

" Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing resolu- 
tions be furnished to his family. 

" J. DIMICK, Colonel U. S. A." 

On Wednesday morning the following order was 
issued : — 

"Order "| Hbad Quartebs, Fort Monroe, 

No. 110. ) June 13, 1861. 

" The remains of First Lieutenant John T. Gre- 
ble. Second Artillery (whose gallant conduct in the 
action of the 10th instant at County Creek, is so well 
known), will be conveyed from the chapel to the 
Baltimore boat en route to Philadelphia, this after- 

" The funeral service will take place in the chapel 
at five o'clock. The escort will be detailed from the 
companies of the Second Artillery, and commanded 
by First Lieutenant M. P. Small. 

" The troops will be formed at quarter before five 
o'clock, and marched to the vicinity of the chapel. 
The Post Adjutant will be charged with the neces- 
sary arrangements with reference to the formation of 
the escort of troops. 


"The following ofllcers are requested to act as 
pall -bearers : — 

" Lieutenant Haines, Second Artillery. 
" Morgan, Third Artillery. 

" Lodor, Fourth Artillery. 

" Baylor, Ordnance Department. 

" Turner, First Artillery. 

" Palfrey, Engineers Corp. 

"By order of Colonel Dimiok. 

" THOMAS J. HAINES, Adjulant." 

On the same day, the officers of some of the vol- 
unteers at iN^ewport-ISTewce with whom Lieutenant 
Greble spent the last days of his life, and by whom 
he was beloved, held a meeting, the record of which 
was as follows : — 

" Camp Butlee, Nbwport-Nbwce, 
June 12, 1801. 

"At a meeting of the officers of the Seventh 
Regiment, IS'ew York (Steuben) Volunteers, held 
this day. Colonel John E. Bendix presiding, the 
following resolutions were unanimously adopted : — 

" Hesolved, That in the heroic death of Lieutenant 
John- T. Gkeble of the Second Regiment United 
States Artillery, which occurred on Monday June 
10th, near Great Bethel, Virginia, we deeply deplore 
a great loss to our country, and a svidden, untimely 
period to a life of great promise and usefulness, of 
which his brave conduct on the above occasion gave 
abundant proof; and that we deeply sympathize 



with the family of the deceased in their bereave- 

" Resolved, That, as a mark of respect to the 
memory of the deceased, the officers of this regiment 
will wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty 

" Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing resolu- 
tions be forwarded to the family of the deceased. 

" Resolved, That these proceedings be published in 
the l^ew York and Philadelphia newspapers. 

" A ttest * 


The body was laid in a metallic coffin, in full 
regimentals. The wounded head was encircled by a 
coronal of white lilies, fitting emblems of the purity 
which distinguished the character of the departed 
spirit. Over the coffin was thrown, in graceful folds, 
the national flag, the symbol of his country's power 
and authority, in support of Avhich he had given his 
young life. So arrayed, the remains, preceded by a 
guard of honor, and the band playing the solemn 
"Dead March in Saul," were conveyed to the pleasant 
little chapel within the fortress, where a brief and 
eloquent discourse was delivered by the chaplain of 
the I^ew York Zouave Regiment, and the beauti- 
ful and impressive funeral service of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church in the United States was per- 
formed in the presence of the entire garrison, officers 
and private soldiers, and the officers and crew of the 
frigate Cumberland, then lying in Hampton Roads. 


At the close of the services in the chapel the pro- 
cession was re-formed and followed the remains to 
the Baltimore boat, the colors of which were at half- 
mast. The body was conveyed by it to Baltimore, 
and thence to Philadelphia, by railway, where the 
city authorities had made preliminary preparations 
for a public funeral, and the citizens were eagerly 
awaiting an opportunity to look upon the face of the 
slain hero. No demonstration of feeling was made 
at the railway station, on the arrival of the coffin, for 
it was yet in the custody of bereaved friends. It 
was wrapped in the same flag that had covered it in 
the chapel at Fortress Monroe ; and it was quietly 
conveyed to the parental abode, in I^ineteenth Street 
near Rittenhouse Square, in a modest hearse, follow- 
ed by the father and a few friends, and some officers 
from Fortress Monroe, who had accompanied the 

The precincts of a domestic circle are too sacred 
for the intrusion of the merely curious at the hour 
when the family are, or should be, alone with the 
remains of the departed member ; and the biographer 
has no right, ordinarily, to trespass upon that sanc- 
tity by a revelation of events in the chamber of 
mourning. But this Memoir, intended for those 
only who are numbered among the personal friends 
of the family, may be allowed a little more latitude 
than if it were to be subjected to the scrutiny of the 
stranger-public. So I will venture to lift the veil 
a little, and show a scene most touching and true to 
nature, when the lifeless face of the young husband 


and son was first seen by loving eyes — a face serenely 
beautiful and benignant, and natural in expression. 
The fair young widow was the first to look upon it. 
She bore her babe in her arms as she stepped noise- 
lessly to the cofiin. The pale face — almost as pale 
as the coronal of lilies — seemed to be only in a 
repose that might be disturbed by an afiectionate 
kiss. To look upon it in its beauty was a precious 
boon that filled the mourner's heart with gratitude. 
Softly and tearlessly, with her soul leaning lovingly 
upon the mercy and compassion of Christ, she knelt 
a moment by the side of the cofiin, and then arose 
with a strength of spirit such as only the true 
Christian can feel. Then her little Edwin, only two 
years old, was lifted up so that he, too, could look 
upon the sweet face. He instantly recognized it, 
smiled, and whispered "Papa;" and with a sudden 
impulse that seemed like indignation, he almost 
sprang out of the arms that held him, and loudly 
exclaimed, " Take my papa out of that box !" 

Father, mother, brother, and sisters now looked 
upon the sleeper's face, and then left the remains 
Avith those who were to honor them with funeral 
rites, and carry them to the populous city of the 

Preparations were made for an expression of the 
public feeling. The alumni of the High School 
made arrangements for joining in a funeral proces- 
sion. The city authorities, in special session, after 
passing a series of resolutions of condolence and re- 
gret, drawn up by Mr. Simons, of the Common 


Council, a friend of the deceased, tendei-ed the use 
of Independence Hall for public obsequies. The fol- 
lowing is a record of the proceedings : — 

"[Seal of the Mayor's Approval, " Select and Common Councils 

City of 
rhiladelphia.] JUUC 13, 1861. OP THE ClTY OP PHILADELPHIA. 

Alexander Henky, 

Mayor of Philadelphia. 

." Resolutions relative to the death of Lieutenant 
John T. Gkeble of the United States Army. 

""Wheeeas, It has pleased the All-wise Father 
to permit the death, on the battle-field, of our accom- 
plished and useful fellow-citizen, John T. Geeble, 
a native of Philadelphia, a graduate of the West 
Point Military Academy, and 1st Lieutenant of the 
Second Kegiment of Artillery of the United States 
Army, who, in the vigor and with the fervor of 
young manhood, engaged in the stirring services of 
the camp and field, and, standing by his guns to the 
last, fell while gallantly fighting for our national 
flag, and the honor and life of our country against 
the assaults of internal foes in open armed rebellion 
— thiis offering his precious life a sacrifice upon the 
altar of patriotism in the great struggle for the 
rights of man — the Fiest Maetye peom the 
Ranks oe the Opeioees oe the Regueae Army : 

'■'■Resolved, That in the death of Lieutenant Geeble 
our City is called to deplore the loss of a most worthy 
citizen, our Country one of her noblest defenders, the 


Family Circle an honorable son, an affectionate hus- 
band and father, and his Companions in Arms a be- 
loved officer. 

"Hesolved, That the Select and Common Councils 
do mourn his death as a loss to our City, State, and 
Country; and while we deeply sympathize with his 
beloved family in their bereavement, and tender them 
our heartfelt condolence, we rejoice to know that his 
memory will be enshrined in the hearts of a grateful 
people as one among the first sacrifices in the sup- 
pression of an unholy Rebellion. 

^^Hesolved, That the Select and Common Councils 
attend his funeral, and that these resolutions be 
transmitted to the family, and they be solicited to 
have his remains placed in Independence Hall, upon 
the day of the obsequies, that our citizens may have 
an ample opportunity of paying a last tribute to the 
honored and lamented deceased; and that a Commit- 
tee of three be appointed from each Chamber to carry 
out the object of this resolution. 


^'■President of Common Council. 


'■'• President of Select Council. 



" Clerk of Comvion Council. 

"Committee of Common Council. Committee of Select Council. 
Geoege W. Simons, Daniel M. Fox, 

William Stokes, Stephen Benton, 

Wilson Kerr. John P. Wetherill." 

UtE^'i.ThGiiiAS B5?,Aa?J E[?l®, ^.G). 


The wishes of the city authorities and of the peo- 
ple were complied with, and arrangements were made 
for the observance of the funeral rites on Friday the 
fourteenth day of June. In the morning of that day 
— a pleasant summer morning — the tolling of bells 
and the booming of minute guns spread a feeling of 
solemnity over the city, and thousands of flags un- 
furled at half mast from public buildings and private 
dwellings attested the respect universally felt for the 
character of the deceased. And at a later hour the 
places of business in all the principal streets were 
closed, and the day was devoted by the inhabitants 
of Philadelphia to the rendering of homage to a be- 
loved citizen and gallant soldier. 

At the familj^ mansion the friends of the deceased 
were assembled at an early hour in the forenoon of 
Thursday, and listened to the reading of the impressive 
funeral services of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 
by the Eev. Dr. French, of West Point, and the fol- 
lowing touching discourse by the Rev. Dr. Brainerd 
of the Third Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia : — 

"Before the place which has known our young 
friend here, shall know him no more forever, I cannot 
refrain from expressing the feelings of my heart, in 
view of his worth and his loss. I have known him 
from childhood, and during all his life I have regard- 
ed him with complacency and approbation. Few 
have passed to the grave whose whole life could bet- 
ter bear inspection, or who presented fewer defects 
over which we have need to throw the mantle of 


charity. In his family circle; in the Sabbath school ; 
in the High school, where he graduated; as a Cadet 
at West Point, and as an officer in the service of his 
country ; up to the very hour when he bravely fell, he 
has exhibited a life marked by the purest principles, 
and the most guarded and exemplary deportment. 
In his nature he was modest, retiring, gentle, of al- 
most feminine delicacy; careful to avoid wounding 
the feelings of any; and considerate of every obliga- 
tion to all around him. Indeed, such was his amia- 
bility, modesty, and delicacy of temperament, that 
we might almost have questioned the existence in 
him of the sterner virtues, had not his true and un- 
shrinking courage, in the hour of danger, stamped 
him with a heroic manliness. In this view of quali- 
ties, seemingly antithetical, we discover that beautiful 
symmetry in his character, which marks him as a 
model man of his class. 

"Judging him by his life, we may infer that an out- 
ward conduct so exemplary, had its fountain in reli- 
gious faith and the fear of God; and this inference is 
sustained by the fact, that daily, before retiring to 
rest, he was accustomed to kneel at his bedside in 
prayer to the Author of his being. We may hope it 
is well with him; and that the excellencies of life and 
character which so endeared him to his friends, and 
made him so valuable to his country, have reached a 
field of full appreciation and perfect development. 

"He seems to have been not without foreboding" of 
the fate which awaited him. Before he entered the 
battle-field, he traced in pencil on paper, words of 


love for his cherished wife — of care for his now 
orphan children — of affection for his parents and 
friends — and of trust in Almighty God. This gives 
value to his manly daring, showing that it was no 
bloodthirsty impulse or reckless presumption; but a 
perilous service at the call of duty and his country's 
need. This view sanctifies his martyrdom. It car- 
ries him to the field of battle with no loss of his gen- 
tleness, amiability, and benevolence; but wrought to 
a high enthusiasm, and a calm and tranquil courage, 
by a real love of country and of mankind. Great in- 
terests have had noble martyrs. Stephen fell under 
the murderous hail of stones, at the outset of Chris- 
tianity, and when his life seemed most precious to 
those who made great lamentation over him : so this 
yoving man has fallen in the beginning of the con- 
flict, to preserve this Western Continent — this noble 
country; our Constitution, our order, our prosperity; 
the liberty of the masses of men everywhere, from 
treason, anarchy, aristocratic oppression, and final 
ruin. "We can safely say, ihe cause was worthy of 
the martyr. It is a high eulogy to imply that the 
martyr was worthy of such a cause. He died that 
his country might not die. He died that the great 
experiment of self-government in this land — which 
has made man everywhere feel that he was truly a 
man — might not fail, to the despair of humanity it- 
self in all time to come. In his case, as in another, 
it may have been 'expedient that one man should die, 
that the whole nation perish not.' General Des Saix, 
on the field of Marengo, lamented in dying that he 


had but one life to give for the glory of France. 
Lieut. Greble, dying in a conflict with traitors, might 
have lamented that he had but one life to give for 
such a constitution and such a country. 

"I know that his friends are now inconsolable for 
his loss. I know that no public considerations can 
stanch the wounds of their bleeding hearts. But to 
the circle that loved him, it must be grateful to know 
that in his first conflict he gained a meed which thou- 
sands might envy; that by persevering and martyr 
bravery, in circiimstances of trial and abandonment, 
he has written his name where neither his country 
nor humanity will ever allow it to be efiaced. 
Wherever the history of this great conflict shall go, 
in ages yet to come, and in generations yet unborn, 
'this that he hath done shall be told for a memorial 
of him.' 

"To this bereaved circle we would say, that our 
young friend has only met the destiny of a wise, 
providential appointment, as to the time and mode 
of his death. His life, though brief, has been com- 
plete, if in any degree he has imitated the Blessed 
One, who said, at a little over thirty years of age, in 
doing and in bearing: 'I have finished the work thou 
gavest me to do.' This is now a house of mourning, 
clouded with sorrow; but over this weeping circle is 
the rainbow of the covenant. ' All things work to- 
gether for good, to them that love God.' " 

Then the remains were surrendered to the Com- 
mittee of Councils, and at midday they were con- 


veyed to the State House, in an elegant plumed 
hearse, preceded by an escort of city dignitaries. 
The coffin, still wrapped in the national flag, was 
placed in the centre of Independence Hall, upon a 
bier covered with black velvet — the same bier upon 
which had rested the remains of John Quincy Adams, 
Henry Clay, and Dr. Kane. Upon the coffin-lid 
were laid the sword and military hat of the dead 
soldier, and at its head was a photographic likeness 
of him, encircled with ivy, the emblem of Friendship. 
Wreaths of fair and fragrant flowers, arranged by the 
hands of sympathizing women, were there in abund- 
ance. From some of these, long white ribbons were 
dependent, on which was the word Pueity. 

That Hall, clustered with patriotic associations, 
was a fitting place for the body of the young martyr 
to lie in state. The walls were hung with portraits 
of many of the founders of the republic, for whose 
preservation he had freely given his life. In that 
room the representatives of a free people declared 
and signed a written Declaration that thirteen Ameri- 
can Colonies were free and independent States, and 
boldly asserted the seminal principle upon which 
rest the dearest rights of man, that "aW men are 
created equal" — a principle against which conspira- 
tors were then waging a cruel war, with the strength 
of a deceived and injured people whom they con- 
trolled. In that room was the old State House bell, 
with its inscription — "Proclaim Liberty unto the 
Land and to the Inhabitants thereof" — which pealed 
out the joyous announcement that the resolution for 


and declaration of independence had been adopted by 
the Continental Congress ; and around it were many 
relics associated with the stormy period in our his- 
tory when the rights of the people to the enjoyment of 
the privileges of " Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of 
Happiness," were nobly and successfully contended 
for — privileges, for the perpetuation of which the 
young patriot had fought and died. 

When the doors of the State House and of Lide- 
pendence Hall were opened, a vast stream of citizens 
which had been for hours pent up in the streets, 
flowed in. The peox^le hoped to see the face of the 
beloved young man. That privilege could not be 
granted ; but from the fine likeness of him at the 
head of the coffin, each bore away a pleasing impres- 
sion of his features, and was satisfied. So deep was 
the feeling that many a lip kissed the mute likeness, 
and many a tear moistened the sweet flowers. It 
was a recognition of greatness and goodness, spon- 
taneously offered by a grateful people, which the 
proudest potentate of earth might covet. 

At three o'clock in the afternoon, the hour ap- 
pointed for the funeral procession to move from the 
State House to the cemetery, full ten thousand people 
had passed in and out of the hall, and thousands 
more were eagerly pressing toward it. The doors 
were then closed, and the coffin was carried to the 
hearse in waiting. As it passed out the troops com- 
posing the guard of honor, formed in double line 
from the door, presented arms. Then the procession 
moved in the following order : — 


Reserve Corps of Police, fifteen abreast. 

Colonel William F. Small and Adjutant. 

Beck's Philadelphia Brass and Clarionet Band, thirty pieces. 

Regimental Corps of Sixteen Drummers. 

Colonel Small's Regiment, fully armed, and marching in regular 

Company C carrying the National Flag drooped with black 

The Sharp's Rifle Guards, Captain Alexander, the rifles reversed. 
First platoon of the Union Artillery. 
The Hearse. 
Distinguished officers of the Array and Navy acting as Pall- 
bearers* and a Guard of Honor. 
Officers of the Gray Reserve Regiment in full uniform. 
Second platoon of the Union Artillery. 
Company of the Central High School Cadets of Philadelphia 
carrying a flag festooned with crape. 
Carriages containing the Maj'or and City Avithorities, Judges, 
Members of Congress, and numerous distinguished citizens, 
among whom were many High School Alumni, followed by a 
large concourse of people. 

The procession moved from the State House down 
Fourth Street to Walnut, and through Walnut to 
ISTineteeth Street, in which is the dwelling of Mr. 
Grehle. There it was joined by a large number of 
carriages containing the family and friends of the 
deceased. These took a place in the line immedi- 
ately behind the guard of honor which followed the 
hearse. To the sweet, slow music of the band play- 

* The following officers wore the appointed pall-bearers : Lieutenant 
Thomas, U. S. N. ; Lieutenant Pierce, TJ. S. A. ; J. O. Burnet, Surgeon 
U. S. N. ; Lieutenant Van Cleve, U. S. A. ; Major Mareton, U. S. M. ; and 
Major Rufl; U. S. A. 


ing "The Dead March in Saul," and the solemn beat- 
ing of muffled drums, the procession then moved out 
to West Philadelphia, and along the Darby Road to 
the beautiful, quiet Woodlands Cemetery far outside 
of the noisy city; while at points on the way the 
people stood in crowds, and many uncovered their 
heads in reverence for the first Pennsylvania officer 
who had fallen in the strife. In the burial-ground 
of the Greble family in the Woodlands the remains 
of that noble scion were laid. At the vault in which 
they were first deposited the burial service was read 
by Doctor French, and a few days afterwards the 
body was committed to the grave, which, to him, as 
recorded in his note-book, had " seemed, in summer, 
but an opening in the ground in which we are to 
plant seed that, in time, will ripen into plants more 
beautiful than the tall trees and rich flowers around 
us." After the words " dust to dust, ashes to ashes," 
were spoken at the vault, and some earth was cast 
upon the coffin, the usual military salute was fired. 

So closed the last sad rites in honor of the mortal 
remains of a beatified spirit whose earthly character 
and deeds have left an impression that will be a per- 
petual blessing to his country and to mankind. In 
his daily life he had been a bright example of a good 
son, a good husband, and a good citizen; and his 
almost dying words "I never dodge!" make as 
noble a motto for a soldier as ever was emblazoned 
on the arms of the most courtly and gallant knight 
renowned in history. They were worthy of a Bayard 
or a Sidney ; and they will be resounded by the lips 

■5. i:i&A5V'ii?.« 


of every true soldier through all the future, until 
Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men shall every- 
Avhere govern the actions of God's intelligent crea- 
tures as worthy followers of the Prince of Peace. 

The death of Lieutenant Greble produced a pro- 
found sensation throughout the country, and pen and 
tongue hastened to express the emotions of the people 
— emotions first of indignation, and then of sorrow 
and admiration. "The people demand a deep and 
satisfactory vengeance," said a Philadelphia journal 
on the morning after the funeral, and the Pennsyl- 
vania Volunteers will fight with a new vigor when 
they remember the gallant Greble." But a spirit 
worthier of a Christian people soon prevailed, and 
monodies and eulogies in verse and pi-ose burdened 
the press. Thei"e came to be a universal feeling of 
admiration for his bravery and love for his virtues ; 
and the words of Halleck, uttered long years before 
respecting another noble soul, might now be spoken 
of the martyred Greble : — 

"He has been mourned as brave men mourn the brave, 
And wept as nations weep their cherished dead, 
With bitter but proud tears ; and o'er his head 
The eternal flowers whose root is in the grave — 
The flowers of Fame— are beautiful and green ; 
And by his grave's side pilgrims' feet have been ; 
And blessings pure as men to martyr's gave 
Have there been breathed by those he died to save. 

Pride of his country's banded chivalry. 

His fame their hope, his name their battle-cry ; 

He'lived as mothers wish their sons to live- 
He died as fathers wish their sons to die." 


Lieutenant Greble's companions-in-arms were es- 
pecially eloquent in words of love and admiration. 
One of these, Lieutenant R. Lodor of the artillery, in 
a familiar letter to a friend in Philadelj)hia, written 
at Fortress Monroe just after the battle, said : " Just 
think of poor John Greble's death ! "Was it not 
awful. Bill ? He was a noble man ; one of the kind 
you don't often meet in this world ; modest — particu- 
larly so — unassuming, retiring, a perfect disposition, 
and, withal, as brave as a lion. O ! I tell you it was 
grand the way he stood there and took the fire of 
the whole battery, and just as cool and quiet as at a 
drill. The volunteer ofiieers can't praise him enough. 
They think him a brave of the first order." 

Lieutenant Kingsbury (afterward killed in the 
war) wrote to Mrs. Greble a few days after the fune- 
ral, and said that the day before the young hero left 
!Newport-]Srewce, he seemed a little feverish. "I 
attributed it," Kingsbury said, "to his constant 
watchfulness, for no one could have been more vigi- 
lant than himself. The whole body of volunteers, 
who were there, looked to him and his little com- 
mand as their chief reliance in the hour of necessity. 

" It will, I know, be among your pleasantest recol- 
lections to be assured that scarcely an hour of the 
day passed that your husband did not make some 
remark to me which betokened his love for his wife 
and his babies. The letters he received from you 
were read and re-read, and from them he read to me, 
with a father's delight, the prattle of his little son. 
The morning before I left, I entered his tent and 


found him reading his Bible. Then, again he ex- 
pressed his desire to see you and his children." 

From many others, the stricken wife received the 
kindest assurances of sympathy in her bereavement 
and loss, and reverence for her departed husband. 
In these assurances, his parents participated. To 
Mr. Greble, Robert Dale Owen wrote from Wash- 
ington city in August following, inquiring, "Did 
you communicate to your daughter-in-law what the 
President said to me in regard to her husband? 
namely, that of all those who had fallen, or who had 
distinguished themselves in the present contest, it 
was his deliberate judgment that not one had acted 
so heroically nor deserved so well of his country, as 
Lieutenant Greble." 

Colonel Williams, who, as brigadier-general, was 
killed in a battle at Baton Eouge, Louisiana, writing 
to his wife in September from Harrisburg, Pennsyl- 
vania, said, "I have established a camp of instruc- 
tion here, and called it " Camp Greble" in honor of 
our gallant friend, who fell at Bethel." And one 
of the grand line of forts that almost circumvallated 
Washington city, early in the second year of the war, 
and stood upon a commanding position on the Mary- 
land side of the Potomac below the IS'avy Yard, was 
named " Fort Greble." 

Four months after his death, a fine portrait of 
Lieutenant Greble, painted by a distinguished artist 
of Philadelphia, was placed among those of other 
men of renown, in Independence Hall, by order of 



the authorities of that city, under circumstances 
which the suhjoined correspondence will explain : — 

"Philadelphia, October, 1861. 

" Theodore Coylbe, Esq., 

President of Select Council, City of Philadelphia. 

" Dear Sir : Through your courtesy I have the 
honor to transmit herewith, to the Select Council, 
for a place in Independence Hall, my portrait of the 
late Lieutenant John T. Greble, who so nobly dis- 
tinguished himself, and fell one of the earliest sacri- 
fices in defence of his country, in her hour of peril, 
at the battle of Great Bethel, Virginia, June 10, 
1861. I ask their acceptance of this offering, com- 
memorative of an illustrious fellow-citizen, known to 
be as eminent for high moral excellence as for the 
cool and efficient intrepidity displayed by him on a 
bloody field. 

"This portrait was executed, and is presented with 
the idea, that works of the kind now, as in ancient 
times, operate on warm and generous minds, not only 
in some sense as rewards for, but as incentives to 
virtue and heroism. 

"If this, dear sir, be no mistaken sentiment, the 
donor, in the approval and reception of this picture 
by the Council, for the place and purposes intended, 
will feel himself amply repaid for whatever exertions 
on his part it may have called forth. 

" "With consideration of high respect and regard, 



At the next meeting of the city legislature, the 
following resolutions were adopted : — 

^^ JResolved, hy the Select and Common Councils of 
the City of Philadelphia, That the thanks of the City 
of Philadelphia be and the same are hereby tendered 
to E. D. Marchant, Esq., for his generous gift of the 
accurate and beautifully executed portrait of the late 
Lieutenant John T. Greble, a native of this city, 
who was the first martyr, of his official grade, in the 
regular army, who has fallen in the present great 
struggle for our Il^ational existence. 

''^ Resolved, That the Commissioner of City Pro- 
perty be and he is hereby instructed to place the 
same in Independence Hall." 

The following letter to the artist, from Mr. Greble, 
attests the fidelity of the picture : — 

"E. D. Marchant, Esq.: — 

" Dear Sir : Permit me to express my gratitude 
for your liberal gift to the City of Philadelphia, of 
the portrait of my son, Lieut. John T. Greble, U. S. A., 
who fell in the disastrous advance on Great Bethel. 

"When you expressed the wish to paint his portrait 
for that purpose, I judged, from your high reputa- 
tion as an artist, that a likeness would be produced : 
when I saw the portrait finished, I was surprised at 
its accuracy. Had the living man been before you, 
I do not think you could have transferred his features 
and expression with greater fidelity. Of this opinion 
I have not heard a dissenting voice. 

' He being dead yet on the canvas liveth.' 


"As a work of art I judge it to be worthy of your 
skill. Some of my friends, who are capable of judg- 
ing, pronounce it to be such. 

" Accept my thanks, my dear sir, for the deep feel- 
ing which you have displayed in this, my bereave- 
ment, and believe me to be, 

" "With much respect, 

" Yours, very truly, 


"Philadelphia, October 23, 1861." 

In the Village of Hampton, Virginia, near Fortress 
Monroe, a society of the benevolent order of Odd Fel- 
lows named their association, in honor of the fallen 
soldier, " Greble Lodge." It is Hfo. 137 among 
the lodges of Virginia. Its seal bears an engraved 
portrait of young Greble. 

In Philadelphia, a section of an association called 
the "Order of United American Mechanics," evinced 
their respect for his memory, and for his family, by 
entitling their new organization, perfected in Feb- 
ruary, 1867, " Greble Council, i^o. 103, O. U. A. M.," 
and electing the father of Lieutenant Greble an hon- 
orary member of the Council. 

The crowning honor of the many conferred after 
the death of the hero, was awarded by Mr. Stanton, 
the eminent Secretary of "War, with the sanction of 
the Senate of the United States given by unanimous 
vote. It was in the form of the following letter to 
the father of Lieutenant Greble, inclosing three 
commissions named in it : — 


"Wak Department, 
Washington City, July 31, 1867. 

" Dear Sir : — 

" I have the pleasure of inclosing to you the com- 
missions of Brevet Captain, Major, and Lieutenant- 
Colonel, conferred in honor of the memory of your 
son, John T. Grreble, the first ofiicer of the regular 
army who perished in the war for the suppression of 
the rebellion. His distinguished character, his gal- 
lant conduct on the field when he fell, and his devoted 
sacrifice to the cause of his country, will make his 
name and memory illustrious. 

" I am, with great respect, 

" Your obedient servant, 
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secr'y of War. 
" Hon'ble Edwin Greble, Philadelphia, Pa." 

These brevet commissions, passed upon by the 
Senate six months before they were issued, were 
given, as each expresses it, "for conspicuous gal- 
lantry, and meritorious conduct in the Battle of Big 
Bethel, in Virginia," and all bear the same date. 
" This," said the Philadelphia Public Ledger, " is no 
formal compliment, for those familiar with the events 
of that battle know right well that it was the con- 
spicuous gallantry of this young Philadelphia ofiicer 
that saved our army there from a defeat much more 
disastrous than actually occurred. After the retreat 
of our troops had become general, he kept his gun in 
a commanding position in the road, holding at bay 
the advancing rebels, and maintained it there vintil 


nearly his whole force of gunners had been killed or 
crippled, and fought it gallantly with his own handsj 
amidst showers of shell and grape, until he was 
killed. The records of the war present no more 
striking example of true courage and faithful devo- 
tion to duty than was displayed by young Greble on 
that occasion. The memory of this still lives, and 
we make use of the occasion afforded by these post- 
humous honors to direct attention to the point that 
such courage and such unswerving discharge of 
duty to one's country are always cherished in the 
memories of the people." 

Lieutenant-Colonel Greble was about five feet 
seven inches in height, compactly built, and when in 
full health weighed about one hundred and forty-five 
pounds. He was erect and soldierly in carriage, and 
easy yet dignified in deportment. His voice was 
pleasant and always kindly in tone. His complex- 
ion was rather pale. His hair was a very dark 
brown. His eyes were a dark blue, and rather deeply 
set, with long, dark, silky lashes, from under which 
ever beamed a sweet benignity of expression that 
revealed a pure and exalted soul. 

I cannot better close this Memoir than by the in- 
troduction of the subjoined letter, written to me by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Greble's classmate and friend, 
Major-General O. O. Howard, whose bravery, patriot- 
ism, fidelity and goodness made him a conspicuous 
and salutary example for our young men during 
the whole struggle of Eight and Freedom against 
"Wrong and Oppression, for nine years from the 


booming of the first gun against Fort Sumter until 
the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment of the 
DSTational Constitution. 

" Philadelphia, April 17, 1870. 
*' Mr. Benson J. Lossing. 

" My Deak Sir : I came to this place to speak to 
the Sunday school of the church of the Holy Trinity, 
in which Mrs. Greble is very earnestly engaged; and 
finding a few moments of quiet this evening, which I 
seldom find at Washington, I told my good friend, 
Mr. Edwin Greble, that I would fulfil a promise I 
made him some time ago, i. e., write some of my re- 
collections of his son (my classmate), who lost his 
precious life so early in our late struggle for the pre- 
servation of our national existence. 

"In September, 1850, I joined the West Point 
class of 'new cadets;' and amongst my early ac- 
quaintances was Cadet John T. Grreble, who had 
preceded me at the Academy by the space of the 
summer encampment. My earliest impressions of 
him were from noticing an odd fi'iendship between 
him and Cadet Wade, of Tennessee (our classmate), 
who died of disease before the war — odd, because 
Wade was large, rough, and boisterous in manner, 
frank and generous withal, and quite mature already. 
He was named by the cadets ' Babe Wade,' on the 
principle that J. E. B. Stuart, another classmate, was 
called ' Beauty Stuart.' On the other hand, Greble 
was sensitive and retiring, quite young, and a head 
shorter, and much smaller every way, than Wade, 


though closely knit and presenting always, what 
cadets prize highly, 'a perfect military figure.' 

"These two walked together during recreative 
hours almost daily. Just after supper, I have often 
heard, in the rear yard, the clear sharp voice of 'Babe 
Wade' calling '■Oh, Greble,' or 'Mag.,' lengthening 
the 'Oh,' and mispronouncing his name by long e in- 
stead of short e. The ' Mag.,' I supposed, proceeded 
from the habit of cadets sujiplying, in a queer way, 
the want of ladies' society, by naming and calling 
each other by some feminine sobriquet,* 'Betsy 
Baker,' 'Susan Woods,' and the like. 'Susan' is six 
feet tall, and weighs upwards of two hundred pounds. 
The sobriquets are no means of judging of appearance, 
for they are as often given in contrast as for positive 
elements or characteristics. The friendship between 
these young men — these opposites — was genuine, 
sincere, and continued till death, and, I hope, is still 
as real and brightening in their present happier home. 

"I had many conversations with Cadet Greble at 
the beginning, and we became sufficiently familiar 
for me to call him 'John,' and he to address me as 
'Sep.' (having been fledged as a cadet in Septem- 
ber) ; but I knew him better after a visit, diu'ing our 
next encampment, from his father, mother, and sis- 
ter, to all of whom he was devotedly attached. Fa- 
thers and mothers usually love their children, but the 
children's return of affection often lacks intensity. 
But not so with John. 

* Lieutenant Greble was called "Mag." because of a quality universally 
attributed to him. It was an abbreviation of " magnanimous." 


" "We had mtich time during this visit to walk and 
talk. I enjoyed, exceedingly, that encampment. 
There was to me a freshness, a frankness, a quick 
confidence in this Philadelphia family that won me; 
and I have never ceased to enjoy the unfailing kind- 
ness and hospitality extended to me at his father's 
house, at all times, when I approach Philadelphia. 

" We continued our friendship without any inter- 
mission. Once, when I lost caste with my mates, 
because of my 'abolition sentiments,' .and some slan- 
der was diligently propagated by an enemy, John 
never joined my accusers; and I remember that he 
always received me at his room with apparent joy. 

" The "West Point life embraces recitations, horse- 
riding, drills, and out-door and in-door instruction. 
Sometimes John and I were in the same section of 
the class and sometimes not, but our intercourse was 
daily and familiar. Though he often told me of his 
home and friends, of his earlier school-work and boy- 
life, yet I do not remember that either of us broached 
the subject that our mothers had nearest at heart — 
our Christian purposes. If I remember rightly, he 
attended the Bible-class quite regularly when we 
first went into barracks. 

"After graduating we met in Florida. He was 
stationed at some distance from me, at Manatee. I 
was of the ordnance department at Tampa at the time, 
so that we met only occasionally. On the frontier, 
at that time, there was much drinking, especially 
when there was no immediate call to duty; but I 



never knew John to drink. I think he was always 
regular in all his habits — more so than I was. 

"In 1859, I was ordered from Florida to "West 
Point as instructor in mathematics. Lieutenant 
Greble became the same in English studies. Pro- 
fessor Church was my chief, and professor French, 
our chaplain and English professor, was his. I had, 
in Florida, found a personal Saviour, and therefore 
sought the counsel of Mr. French constantly, and 
became very intimate in his family. Our friend had 
married his charming daughter, and our little families 
of the same size, bright with fresh hopes, and beau- 
tiful in love and friendship, became very closely 
united. I was the god-father of little Clara Greble. 
Mr. French baptized all my house. 

" Once John and I walked for hours together, and 
he opened his heart to me. I tried to tell him of the 
change in me since he first knew me, and of the 
sweet comfort and peace of a conscious reconcilement 
with God through a risen, real Redeemer, when he 
burst out with vinusual feeling, ' O ! Howard, I am 
not good, I cannot even have good thoughts. I 
would like to do right, and be a Christian. I believe 
I must change and be good enough before I go to 
the communion or join the church.' Some of our 
Christian friends and advisers demanded no special 
evidence of a ' change of heart ;' only a declaration 
of a pui-pose to keep the ordinances and to do right 
as far as permitted. 'This,' said Lieutenant Greble, 
' is not satisfactory to me. I want more of a token 
of my acceptance.' 


" Siich, I remember to have been the substance of 
his remarks to me. Of course I tried to get him to 
spring forward earnestly, and to help him ; but soon 
after this precious interview we were separated. The 
war came, and I went one way and he another. His 
noble conduct and early sacrifice you can describe 
better than I. I believe his steady heroism was due 
to a faith in God deeper than anybody knew ; a faith 
indicated evidently in that conversation with me at 
West Point, as begotten by God's Holy Spirit which 
does not permit us to exalt ourselves, but wraps us 
in its own robes. My interest in him and in his 
beautiful little family is almost too sacred to speak of. 
That family is borne daily to the throne of grace 
with my own lovely little flock ; and the time will 
come when we shall all be gathered to meet him in 
that beautiful land where friendship and families are 
never broken. His father laid the greatest possible 
sacrifice ujDon the altar of his country ; and I thank 
you, my dear Sir, from my heart for the comfort you 
give him in so faithfully seeking out and portraying 
the short and brilliant career of my dear young 
friend, who is to be remembered in the history of this 
Republic as Colonel John T. Geeble, an Early 
Martyr in the Struggle for the new Birth of Freedom 
to this Country. 

" With much esteem, I remain, 

" Yours sincerely, 

"0. O. HOWARD, 

'■'■Brevt. Maj.-Getieral U. S. A."